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Online and/or Remote Access to Oregon Court Documents

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All Oregon county circuit courts (and most if not all county, justice, and municipal courts) allow free on-site (in the courthouse) access to OJIN.Few if any public libraries will subscribe to OJIN. It is not an easy database to use, due primarily to the fact that it was designed many decades ago for court staff and lawyers. Keep in mind also that few full-text documents are in OJIN. If you need copies of actual documents filed in a particular case, rather than just reading the docket entry, you would have to go to the courthouse file room or clerk’s office anyway, so remote access will not save you a trip to the courthouse.Some county law libraries have OJIN subscriptions, but not many, for the same reason – the actual documents are only at the courthouse so lawyers, litigants, or researchers may as well be right in the court’s file room when they do their searches – and where they can get expert search assistance.Note, OJIN is not like PACER, the federal electronic case filing database, which does have full text. But it too requires you to register – and there are charges, with some exceptions.

None of these public databases is free. It is very expensive to create and maintain good databases and people who use them are asked to help pay for them, even if all taxpayers contribute most of the money to support these databases.

Online databases, of any kind, are not free or even cheaper than paper files – they just allow greater access, at a cost. The price of remote access is high since you need skilled and experienced programmers and designers and network specialists who can build databases that everyone can use – not to mention the skills, hardware, and software that are needed to keep a database secure and properly backed up – and have 24/7 user support. These skilled workers cost a whole lot more than people who sort and file paper documents.

There are also private, commercial, court document services where you can find case files online. These databases, however, are even more expensive than OJIN or PACER. Big law firms, many with law librarians and other expert database searchers, will subscribe to these, but here too as with anything we buy or sell, the costs are passed along to the people who use them, the client or customer.