State/Local Funding

  • The Oregon Judiciary is primarily a state funded system. 
  • The state pays for the salaries of judges, support staff and clerical staff and for trial court technology and operating expenses.  Courthouses and equipment are paid locally.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Oregon’s total state and federal grant appropriation for the judicial system increased from $369.6 million for the two years ending in June, 2011 to $425.3 million for the two years ending in June, 2013, an increase of greater than 8%.  The state general fund appropriation increased from $283.8 million to $367.9 million.  The percent of state general funds allocated to the judiciary increased from 2.4% to 2.67%. 
  • There have been no additional resources from local funds.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to improve.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Chief Justice presents the Judiciary’s recommended budget directly to the Legislature.
  • The Judicial Branch has flexibility to move funds between budget line items, but the current budget has more dedicated appropriations than in the past.
  • The FY13 budget provides for the technology necessary to meet the demands of the public and to make needed enhancements.  The Oregon courts have been provided with significant resources to develop and implement new integrated systems.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Times

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:  Over the past four years, the number of judges has remained the same while the number of trial court staff and central office staff has been reduced by more than 8%.  The Oregon courts have lost 12% of staff over the past four years.  In the coming year, the number of judges will be increased by 2%.

Service Reductions:  Over the past four years, the Oregon courts have reduced hours of operation, imposed staff layoffs and have delayed filling judicial vacancies and vacancies in the clerks’ offices and in judicial support positions.  They have reduced the use of retired judges and have delayed jury trials.

Compensation:  Over the past four years, salaries have been frozen for judicial officers and court staff.  Court staff have been furloughed.  Court staff are now picking up pieces of health care costs and could in the future pick up a greater share of health care and pension costs.

Efficiency Measures:  The Oregon courts have implemented e-filing along with an electronic document management system, an enhanced case management system and electronic workflow.   Law enforcement can file e-citations.  Litigants can make e-payments of fees and fines.  The courts created a virtual self-help center and a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to records.

Re-Structuring:  The Oregon courts have consolidated courthouses, have consolidated clerk management positions, have reallocated staff and have used part-time and off-hours workers. 

Business Processes:  The Oregon courts have:

  • Implemented enhanced caseflow management programs
  • Created a statewide fine schedule for petty misdemeanors
  • Implemented in-court updating for docket entries and other orders
  • Transitioned to digital recording of court proceedings
  • Implemented videoconferencing of incarcerated defendants 

The Oregon courts have outsourced the collection of fines, penalties, bail or other fees and in the coming year plan to outsource electronic filing.

Centralization:  The Oregon courts have implemented:

  • A centralized call center
  • A centralized payable center
  • Centralized traffic citation processing

They plan to implement centralized jury qualification and summonsing in the coming year.

A Joint Statutory Committee on State Court Revenue Structure was created by the 2010 Legislature.

The Oregon courts are in a worse position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  The courts have implemented extensive performance and efficiency measures, but extensive staffing reductions have impacted court operations.  Service reductions have resulted in reduced service to the public, limited access to court services and increased delays and backlogs.

Reports and Articles

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