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
A small claim is a civil lawsuit involving a claim for money that is equal or less than $10,000. Lawyers are not allowed to represent clients unless permission is given by the court prior to the trial. To start a small claims case, the person making the claim (the "plaintiff") fills out a Claim and Notice of Claim and submits them to the court. The court has this form available for free. The Claim contains a summary of the reason for the lawsuit. There is a $37.00 filing fee paid to Justice Court. It is up to the Plaintiff to have the Defendant (the person allegedly owing the money) personally served with a copy of the Claim and Notice of Claim. The Plaintiff cannot make this service, and most people ask the Sheriff to make this service. The Sheriff charges $45.00 to serve one or two people. Once the defendant is served with the Claim and Notice of Claim, the defendant has 14 days to file an Answer. An Answer denies all or part of the claim. The defendant can also sue the plaintiff with a Counterclaim. Forms are available from the court to file an Answer and/or a Counterclaim. The filing fee for an Answer is $37.00. A counterclaim has no fee in addition to the Answer fee of $37.00. If the defendant does not file an Answer, after 14 days, the plaintiff can ask the court for a default judgment.
If the defendant files an Answer or Counterclaim, the court will schedule a trial and send both parties a trial notice. At trial, it is up to the plaintiff to bring in witnesses and exhibits (papers, photos, etc.) to prove their case. That is, what are the facts showing that the judge should award money to the plaintiff. The defendant can bring witnesses and exhibits to show the judge there are facts showing that the Plaintiff should not be awarded money. Witnesses testify under oath, and both parties and the judge can ask the witness questions. At the end of the trial, the Judge has to decide the issues of fact and the legal issues, and then decide which party should be awarded a money judgment. A judgment is issued once the judge has ruled on the case. ORS 20.190 provides for the court to award prevailing fees to the party who is awarded a judgment. It is the policy of the court to award prevailing costs and fees. The law allows an appeal to Circuit Court for a new trial. The appealing party needs to obtain a bond for the amount of the money judgment entered against them, as part of the appeal process. If the court awards a money judgment, it is up to the party receiving that money judgment to collect it from the other party.
To transcribe the judgment to Circuit Court, you will need to submit $18 to the Justice Court ($9 to move from the small claims to the civil docket, plus $9 for the transcript) and another $18 to Circuit Court for filing. The Justice Court will forward the $18 along with the prepared transcription.
The court cannot give legal advice. Legal advice includes helping you choose words to describe your claim, or tell you how much money you should ask for. If you want legal advice, you can contact a lawyer, look up the law at the county library, or use a computer. The Oregon State Bar has a web page which gives some directions for legal advice: https://www.osbar.org/index.html.
Legal Aid Information. Legal Aid's phone number is 1-888-245-4091.
FORMS AVAILABLE AT COURT HOUSE and at the links below:
- Small Claim and Notice of Small Claim
- Declaration of Good Faith Effort
- Defendant's Response
- Motion for Default Judgement
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.