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Oregon Small Claims Court: A Checklist for Plaintiffs and Defendants


There is now (hurrah!) a print and eBook:  “Using Small Claims Court in Oregon,” by Janay Haas.

But there is still a lot of work to do if you are a party to a case filed in Oregon Small Claims Court – and want a verdict in your favor (that is, if you want to win) – and if you want to collect on the judgment:

If you are a plaintiff, a defendant, or otherwise need to appear in Oregon Small Claims Court ….

If you’re thinking about or planning, or have scheduled, a trip to Small Claims Court ….

1) Carefully read any forms, letters, and other court-related documents served or mailed to you. Please do not ignore them, even, especially,  if you believe that a mistake has been made.

2) Read the materials published by your Oregon Justice or Circuit Court (depending on where your case was filed or will be filed). These may be print copies you can get from the court or online copies from the court’s website.

3) Read the statutes: Oregon Revised Statutes (and don’t forget the session law from even-numbered years, which are not included in the odd-numbered year ORS).

4) Read “Using Small Claims Court in Oregon,” by Janay Haas.

5) Talk to an Oregon attorney who can serve as your Small Claims Coach. Call the Oregon State Bar Information and Referral Service, which has a toll free number, and ask for the names of attorney Small Claims Court Coaches in your area: 503-684-3763 or 1-800-452-763.   NOTE: Prepare carefully – make every minute with that attorney count! Make a one page fact sheet. When you call the attorney for an appointment, ask what information or documents you should bring with you to your consultation. If you haven’t run the numbers, ask the attorney about filing costs, the costs if your case goes to trial rather than settling during mediation, etc. And do ask about the law! Debt collection, landlord-tenant, contract law, etc. can be more complicated, or simply less logical, in real life than they appear in statutes.

6) Familiarize yourself with other Oregon Small Claims Court information resources, e.g. the Subject Guide at the Washington County Law Library.

7) Last, but not least: Unless it is absolutely impossible, you should always visit Small Claims Court before your case and sit in on the trials so you can see how small claims cases are handled by the court and the judge.  Contact the Small Claims Court where you plan to file your case to find out when cases are heard.  In Washington County, for example, Small Claims Court cases are heard each week on Monday afternoons.

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These blog posts are snippets of news, research tips, and commentary. They are starting places for legal research, not full legal research strategies or results. Please talk to a lawyer or law librarian if you want to research your legal issue thoroughly.

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