The civil court in Deschutes County handles non-criminal cases involving:
- two or more persons;
- one or more persons and one or more public or private company;
- two or more public or private entities;
- a government agency and a person, e.g., Troncoso v. Deschutes County (2020);
- any combination of the aforementioned entities;
Any dispute may end up in civil court when the parties involved fail to arrive at a mutually beneficial way to resolve the dispute. Most times, the plaintiff seeking legal intervention is one who has suffered or incurred injury or damage to self, property, or private interests.
Many civil suits in Deschutes County civil court are also by entities seeking to advance public goals, e.g., Oregon City v. Central Oregon Peacekeepers (2021). Generally, a civil suit will fall under:
- Small claims
- Tort and personal injury
- Probate/estate disputes
- Civil appeals
- Domestic relations
Filing a civil case
Unlike criminal cases, where a person has done something that violates Oregon Criminal Laws or county ordinance, the police cannot be involved in a civil matter. It is up to the parties involved to try legal options, such as mediation, to resolve the dispute and resort to filing a civil case as the last option.
A person or entity who intends to file a civil case in Deschutes county must go to the clerk’s office during business hours. There, the court administrative staff will provide the necessary forms and instructions depending on the nature of the case. The plaintiff will need to pay the applicable filing fees and pay for the service of the court papers to the defendant(s). A representing attorney may also do this on the plaintiff’s behalf.
However, before going to the clerk’s office to file a civil case, consider the following questions:
- Who is the defendant? An individual or their business?
- What did the defendant do? This question forms the basis of your complaint and summons.
- Why am I suing the defendant? This question is your court objective, i.e., specific performance or monetary compensation. A civil court cannot sentence the defendant to jail.
- What happens if I do not file a suit?
- When should I sue? Note that a statute of limitation, the legal window to bring a case to court, varies with the nature of the case.
As a person with no prior exposure to the Oregon legal system, you may use self-help resources on the judiciary website to answer these questions. Doing your research increases your chances of winning in court and getting justice. You may also consult an experienced attorney to examine the case and outline the best course of action.
Deschutes County Circuit Court
1100 NW Bond Street
Bend, OR 97703
Business hours: 8 A.M. – 5 P.M.
Responding to a civil suit
Persons listed as a defendant will receive a copy of the documents filed at the clerk’s office, including a complaint and a summons. The rules of civil procedure in Oregon mandates that the defendant responds to the court summons within 30 days. Instructions on how to respond will be on the document.
Preparing for a civil case
The court will schedule a hearing date on which the parties involved in the civil dispute must appear in court. Between the date of filing the suit or serving the papers, and the hearing date, the litigants may engage in discovery or out-of-court settlement. Discovery is when either party requests documents or files relevant to the case in the custody of the other person. An out-of-court settlement may be mediated or independent and generally gives the litigants more control over the outcome of the civil case.
Finding civil court records
Civil court records in Deschutes County are public records under the Oregon Public Records Act. Interested persons may get court records from the Clerk’s office or independent websites. For a step-by-step guide on how to get court records and the associated costs, visit the How To Find Court Records page.