Monday – Thursday
8:00 am to 5.00 pm
How to Request Public Records
Requests for public records must be in writing, signed by the person making the request, and mailed or presented in person to a clerk on duty at a Justice Court office.
We do not accept requests by fax or email, with limited exceptions for requests from certain business or government customers that have established a business relationship with the Justice Court.
We are not the custodian of records held by federal courts, circuit courts, municipal courts, tribal courts or justice courts in other counties.
When We Receive Your Request
When we receive your request, we will determine whether the Justice Court is the custodian of the requested record. We will notify you whether we have all, some, or none of the requested documents within 5 court days of receipt of the written request.
- State law requires us to make available for inspection or to copy only those records that exist at the time of the request. We will not provide copies of records on a continuing basis. You must make a new request for records created after the earlier request.
- State law does not require us to create new public records to respond to a request.
- State law does not require us to create new information using our computer programs or to create a new program to extract data in our computers in a manner you request.
- State law does not require us to develop or acquire new or additional software or programs to retrieve information you request.
- State law gives priority to our regular duties. It does not require us to provide records by a deadline you set. We process requests in the order we receive them. We try to respond promptly, but state law does not require us to interrupt our regular duties to respond to records requests. Staffing shortages and other circumstances or research requirements may delay a response. We will notify you that we have received your request and give you an estimated time if fulfilling your request will take longer than 20 business days.
- State and federal law require or allow us to keep some information and records confidential.
- State law allows us to take reasonable measures to protect our records. It also restricts who may remove court files from the office of the clerk or court administrator. We therefore require that we supervise inspection of our records for requestors who want to inspect records rather than have us copy them first. We charge for staff time to supervise inspection. For some types of records (e.g., digital recordings of court proceedings or documents with some information that is exempt from disclosure), we will make a copy available for inspection as needed to protect the original and to protect confidential information. The charge for this service is $32.00 per hour to the nearest 1/10th hour. You must appear at a time, date and place set by the court to appear and inspect the records requested.
The court will provide you with a written estimate of costs if they will likely be more than $25.00. The court will not proceed further until you confirm in writing that you want the court to proceed and payment is made and clears in advance. The court will refund any excess over actual costs. If costs are underestimated, the court will inform you as soon as possible so you can determine whether you want the court to continue working to respond to your request. The search fee is the courts hourly cost to the nearest 1/10th hour. In this Court that cost is $32.00/hour.
In addition, state law requires us to charge;
- $3.75 to locate a particular file
- $0.25 per page (a double-sided copy is two pages) for each page copied.
State law requires us to charge for certifying that a copy of a document is a true copy. If you request a certified copy, we charge
- $3.75 for each official certificate.
Harney County policy requires us to charge $32.00 per hour to the nearest 1/10th hour to locate records that are not directly related to a particular identified file
To help us find records that respond to your request, your request must identify as specifically as possible the following:
- type of record(s)
- subject matter
- approximate dates(s) we created or received the record
- names of people named in the record or who created or received the record
- the number of copies you request for each record requested
- which copies, if any, you want us to certify Your request must also include your:
- name and signature
- telephone number where we can reach you during business hours
- email address, if possible
If your request is not specific enough for us to easily identify and locate the records you want or is very broad (and therefore costly), we may call or write you for more information or clarification so that we can keep your cost and our cost reasonable.
PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST FORMS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE COURT OFFICE or by FOLLOWING THIS LINK.
This page is currently under construction. Please check back soon for updated information.
HARNEY COUNTY JUSTICE COURT SMALL CLAIMS DEPARTMENT
- YOU MUST FIRST MAKE A BONA FIDE EFFORT TO COLLECT.
- If you get a Judgment, the Court DOES NOT COLLECT; you must take the steps to collect the judgment.
- Limits: Claim (not including court costs) must be $10,000 or LESS, and either the Plaintiff or Defendant must live in Harney County. Check the statutes for time limits on specific claims. Claims must be for either recovery of actual money, damages or specific personal property only.
PLEASE READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY AND COMPLETELY.
Small Claim Court is available to you so that you may pursue your claim without legal representation. All steps of the process depend upon your initiation and follow through. The court CANNOT advise you in filling out forms, or in proper procedure. If you get a judgment, you must take the steps to collect. The court CANNOT collect the judgment for you.
- USE BLUE INK AND PRINT CLEARLY OR TYPE
- Make one check payable to Harney County Justice Court for filing fee. ($37.00)
- Make one check payable to Harney County Sheriff for service fee ($45.00). If more than 75 miles round trip from the Court House, make check for $76.00.
- Names and statements made in the Claim and Notice must be legible and correctly spelled. You are the Plaintiff if you are filing the claim. The person or company being sued is the Defendant. All persons must be listed by proper names (ex: John Doe, Jane Doe, not Mr. and Mrs. John Doe).
- Service cannot be made upon a post office box. You must provide a physical address or work place for the defendant.
- If a business is not a corporation, the name of the business owner should be listed, followed by “dba” (doing business as), and the name of the business (i.e., John Doe dba John’s Catering). You cannot collect against an individual, nor a company it they are not named in the caption of the claim.
- If a business is incorporated, it should be so identified, and the name and address of the corporation’s registered agent or an officer of the corporation provided (i.e., John’s Catering, Inc., an Oregon corporation, Registered Agent: Jane P. Smith, 1234 North Street, Burns, OR 97720). If you need information about an Oregon corporation, call the Corporation Division of the Secretary of State’s Office at 503-986-2200.
- If a person or business is a partnership, list the name of the partnership after the name of each partner (i.e., John H. Doe and Jane P. Smith, dba J&J Catering, a partnership).
- If any person involved in the dispute is under the age of 18 years, or is in military service, or mentally incapacitate, you must determine the legal standing of that party. You may want to consult an attorney for assistance.
WE ARE NOT PERMITTED BY LAW TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU NEED HELP WITH YOUR CLAIM BEYOND THESE INSTRUCTIONS, PLEASE CALL AN ATTORNEY.
Plaintiff must fill out the claim and Notice of Claim form completely. SIGN IN THE PRESENCE OF A COURT CLERK OR NOTARY PUBLIC. Your signature must be sworn. You must have previously made a bona fide attempt to collect the amount, prior to filing.
Statutory filing fee is $35.00 (cash, check or money order), payable to Harney County Justice Court. FILING FEES ARE NOT REFUNDABLE. Service fees $36.00 payable to Harney County Sheriff (if claim is to be served in Harney County). If service location is 75 miles round trip or more, the service fee is $76.00, which will provide service to 1-2 defendants at same address.
Service may also be make be RESTRICTED DELIVERY CERTIFIED MAIL TO EACH DEFENDANT named, if the amount of your claim is LESS THAN $50.00 (ORS 55.045).
Filing and service costs are added onto the claim you are filing, and if you are awarded a judgment, will be included in that amount along with the statutory prevailing party fee of $100.00, unless there are other costs.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MAY A PLAINTIFF SERVE A DEFENDANT. SERVICE MUST BE MADE BY A PERSON 18 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER, IS A RESIDENT OF THE STATE OF OREGON, AND WHO IS NOT A PARTY TO THE CLAIM.
Defendant is directed to file an “ANSWER” with the court WITHIN 14 DAYS of service.
- PAY THE CLAIM. Payment by Defendant must include Plaintiff’s filing, service and prevailing party fee.
- DENY THE CLAIM AND DEMAND A COURT TRIAL. A trial date is set and all parties will be notified by mail. The judge’s decision is final.
($35.00 ANSWER/RESPONSE fee).
- DENY THE CLAIM, DEMAND A COURT TRIAL, AND FILE A COUNTERCLAIM. This counterclaim must involve the SAME MATTER as the Plaintiff’s claim. ($35.00 ANSWER/RESPONSE fee).
- DENY THE CLAIM AND DEMAND A JURY TRIAL. Claim must be for over $750.00. The court will notify Plaintiff that a formal complaint must be filed and served on the Defendant with a summons, then the matter will be set for trial in Justice Court ($90.00 answer fee + $125 Jury Trial fee = $215.00). ($55.00 additional Plaintiff fee).
IF PLAINTIFF’S FORMAL COMPLAINT IS NOT FILED WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER NOTIFICATION BY THE COURT, DEFENDANT MAY ASK THE COURT TO DISMISS THE CLAIM. IF PLAINTIFF’S FORMAL COMPLAINT IS FILED, THE CASE WILL NO LONGER BE CONSIDERED A SMALL CLAIM CASE, AND PARTIES MAY BE REPRESENTED BY AN ATTORNEY IF THEY SO CHOOSE.
If the matter goes to trial, the prevailing party fee is $115.00.
ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT
- If Defendant does not file an Answer within 14 days, including weekends, excluding legal holidays, Plaintiff may be granted a Default Judgment. PLAINTIFF MUST REQUEST JUDGMENT.
- If Plaintiff does not request judgment by default within 90 days after service on the Defendant, the Court may dismiss the case for want of prosecution.
DISMISSAL OF CASE
- Plaintiff may dismiss at any time after filing the claim.
- Defendant may request dismissal if formal complaint not filed within 20 days after Plaintiff is notified of Defendant’s request for a jury trial.
- Court may dismiss if neither party takes action for 90 days.
- A judgment is valid for a period of 10 years and is renewable for an additional 10 years. An order renewing a judgment must be signed by a judge and filed with the court before the expiration of the original Judgment.
JUDGMENT COLLECTION INFORMATION
- If a judgment is given and the losing party does not voluntarily make payment, the winning party may file a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT with the Court. This WRIT is issued against the debtor’s employer, a third-party holding debtor’s personal property, or a bank where the debtor has an account in order to obtain money or other personal property of the judgment debtor. Judgment must be transcribed to the Civil Docket ($9.00 fee).
- The Plaintiff must completely fill out the garnishment forms and present them to the Court (or an attorney) to be issued. If payment is being made by check, make SEPARATE CHECKS TO EACH AGENCY.
- Writ Issuance Fee: $20.00
- Sheriff’s Service Fee: $25.00
- Financial Search Fee: $15.00 per debtor payable to financial
- NOTE: Other methods for collection of judgment may also be available to the creditor. An attorney may be consulted, or the Oregon Revised Statutes are available to the creditor in the law library of the Harney County Courthouse.
JUSTICE COURT PERSONNEL ARE NOT ALLOWED TO GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. THE COURT IS NOT THE COLLECTOR OF JUDGMENTS, THE PLAINTIFF IS.
TRANSCRIBING JUDGMENT TO CIRCUIT COURT
- A Small Claims Court judgment can be transcribed to Justice Court and then to Circuit Court in order to place a lien against judgment debtor’s real property in Harney County ($18.00 fee payable to Justice Court; $16.00 fee payable to Harney County Circuit Court).
- Creditor may also pursue a WRIT OF EXECUTION against vehicles the debtor may own, or transcribe judgment to another Oregon county for pursuit under that jurisdiction. Please consult an attorney or the law library for further information,
SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT
- The judgment creditor must file a SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT with the Court when full payment of the judgment has been received. The satisfaction form for use by the creditor is available at the Justice Court office.
A JUDGMENT IS THE DECISION OF THE COURT. THE COURT IS NOT A COLLECTION AGENCY, AND WILL NOT SECURE PAYMENT FOR THE JUDGMENT CREDITOR.
ONCE THE JUDGMENT HAS BEEN PAID, THE CREDITOR IS LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR FILING A WRITTEN SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT
IF A CLAIM IS SETTLED BETWEEN THE PARTIES PRIOR TO ENTRY OF A JUDGMENT, THE PLAINTIFF MUST FILE A DISMISSAL FORM WITH THE COURT.
FORMS AVAILABLE AT COURT HOUSE and at the links below:
If you have any questions, you may call the Oregon State Bar tape library at 1-800-452-8260, or go to www.osbar.org. Click on Public Info or you may wish to call an attorney.
Traffic and Violations
FIRST APPEARANCE or ARRAIGNMENT:
An arraignment allows you the opportunity to appear in person before the judge to enter your plea in Court. At any time PRIOR to your arraignment date, you may enter a plea in writing. A copy of the plea options is available below in supporting documents.
An arraignment date is set at the time you receive your citation; this date/time is listed on the bottom of your citation. Check your citation for the time and date you are scheduled to appear. You need to take care of your citation on or before your arraignment date or you will be found Guilty by Default.
Trials and arraignments are two different things. The Judge is not allowed to hear testimony on a case scheduled for trial without both sides being present.
There is no grace period for a trial. If you miss a scheduled trial, you will be found guilty by default. If there are extenuating circumstances that arise prior to the scheduled trial date, contact the court immediately. It is possible that a one-time postponement may be granted, but it is at the Judge's discretion.
If you are not able to physically appear at your scheduled trial, you may request to submit your written testimony in lieu of submitting your testimony orally. Your testimony by affidavit must be received by the trial date and time and must be notarized in order for the Judge to consider the written statement as your appearance.
Waiver and Testimony by Affidavit available as PDF below in Supporting Documents.
Traffic and Violation Frequently Asked Questions
Will my traffic fine be reduced?
Fines are set by the Legislature which has established a minimum and a maximum fine for each category of ticket. The “presumptive fine” amount on a ticket is the fine amount. The Judge may choose to reduce the fine if you have a good driving record, depending on the circumstances.
Do I have to pay the entire fine now?
No. You can sign up for a payment contract. If you do not make your payments according to your plan, the court can ask the DMV to suspend your driving privileges and send the account to a collection agency. Additional fees are added if these actions occur.
How can I pay for the citation?
You can pay the fine by cash, check, credit card, or a payment plan. Your payment plan must be arranged with the court. There is no community service option.
What happens at trial?
The peace officer has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. Preponderance of the evidence means the greater weight of evidence. It is the evidence that has more convincing force when weighed against the opposing evidence. The officer testifies first and tells the judge the circumstances involved in the alleged violation. You may then ask the officer questions about that testimony. If the officer has other witnesses, you may question those witnesses. You may have your own witnesses testify. You can get a subpoena from the court to compel witnesses to appear in court. You may also testify, but you are not required to. If you testify, the officer and the judge may ask you questions. At the end of the trial, the judge will apply the law to the facts of the case. If the judge decides you are not guilty, the judge will dismiss the citation. If the judge believes the violation has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence, the judge will impose a fine. You have the right to appeal a decision adverse to you to the Circuit Court.
Can I change my court date?
You may change your court date only one time, at least 7 days prior to your court appearance.
Will the citation appear on my traffic record?
If you are convicted of a traffic violation, the court is required to inform the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV will put the conviction on your driving record. If you live outside of Oregon, the Oregon DMV will send the information to your home state.
What if I don’t pay the ticket or show up in court?
The court will find you guilty by default and the presumptive fine, plus costs, will be imposed. If you do not pay the fine, the court will have the DMV suspend your driving privileges and may send the account to a collection agency. Additional fees will be imposed.
How do I get legal advice or help with a trial?
The court cannot give legal advice. You may wish to consult your own attorney if you have questions or need legal advice. If you do not have an attorney, contact the Oregon State Bar Referral Service at 1-800-452-7636. If you will be represented by a lawyer at trial, your lawyer must inform the court before the trial.
Can I get a court appointed attorney?
Not for a traffic ticket. Tickets in Justice Court are violations, not crimes. As there is no possible penalty of jail time, you will not get a court appointed lawyer and you are not entitled to a jury trial.
I received a DMV notice stating my license will be suspended. What do I do?
Your license can be suspended for many reasons. Your local DMV is the best place to get information on pending suspensions. If your suspension is due to outstanding fines in this court, you should contact us for your options.
I live in another state. Will anything happen to me if I don’t pay or appear?
Yes. The license suspension is honored by other states and by provinces in Canada. A collection agency will seek to enforce the debt in all states and in Canada.