Municipal Courts function as city government's "judicial branch." Municipal courts are not part of the state government courts in Oregon. Not all Oregon cities have a Municipal Court, but those that do, hear cases involving violations of city laws (ordinances) and some state statutes that regulate animal control, fire control, parking, and traffic violations with city limits.
County Courts exist in seven eastern Oregon counties. The Board of Commissioners in those counties acts as the County Court, each with a county judge who also chairs the county commission and has limited judicial functions. The county judge, whose primary job involves non-judicial administrative responsibilities as chair of the county commission, may handle either probate and juvenile cases, or both, within the county.
Justice Courts are limited jurisdiction courts established by a county government and are not part of the Oregon Judicial Department. The judge of a justice court is called a Justice of the Peace and is elected to serve for six years. Justice Courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanors (crimes that carry potential penalty of up to one year of incarceration); violations (offenses that can result in a monetary fine, but not incarceration, like most traffic tickets); civil claims valued at $10,000 or less (either in small claims or in the regular civil division); and eviction cases. The Justice of the Peace is the decision-maker for most cases in Justice Court, but the Justice can also empanel juries. Justices can also perform weddings. Appeals of justice court decisions are heard in the circuit court.
Tribal Courts are an important part of tribal self-government in Oregon’s Indian Nations. Most tribes have their own constitutions and justice codes that determine how tribal courts resolve civil and criminal matters that occur on reservation lands and property. Some tribes choose to use native customs and traditional forms of dispute resolution and other tribes use an adversarial process (involving a plaintiff and defendant) to settle disputes.
Federal Courts (United States district courts) are the "trial courts" of the United States federal court system. The United States District Court for the District of Oregon has four courthouses – located in Eugene, Medford, Pendleton, and Portland. Federal district courts hear cases related to federal law, administrative actions of federal agencies, or the United States Constitution.
The federal appellate court, called the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is based in San Francisco. It has offices in and hears appeals from lower federal courts in states belonging to the “Ninth Circuit” including Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Marianas Islands, Oregon, and Washington. Decisions of the federal appellate courts may be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Federal courts also handle all bankruptcy cases. The Federal Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon hears cases in two locations – Portland and Eugene.