Judicial selection in Oregon

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Judicial selection in the states
Judicial selection in Oregon
Oregon state seal.png
Oregon Supreme Court
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Oregon Court of Appeals
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Oregon Circuit Courts
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years
Oregon County Courts
Method:   Nonpartisan election of judges
Term:   6 years

Selection of state court judges in Oregon occurs almost exclusively through nonpartisan elections. Judges must run for re-election at the end of their terms if they wish to continue serving.[1]

Under the Oregon Constitution, all elected judges' terms begin on the first Monday in January following their election.[2]

Selection process

See also: Nonpartisan election of judges

Judges of the Oregon Supreme Court, Oregon Court of Appeals and Oregon Circuit Courts are all selected in an identical manner. They are chosen in nonpartisan elections to serve six-year terms, after which they must run for re-election if they wish to continue serving.[1]

For details about Oregon's judicial elections, visit the Oregon judicial elections page.

Selection of the chief justice or judge

The chief justice of the supreme court is selected by peer vote and serves in that capacity for the duration of his or her six-year term. The chief judges of the court of appeals and circuit courts are appointed by the chief justice to serve a two-year term.[1]


Judicial qualifications vary slightly between the appellate and circuit courts.

One common thread is the mandatory retirement age of 75. Judges who reach the age of 75 while in office must retire by the end of that calendar year, though they may be summoned for temporary active service on the court from which they retired. The constitution also states that judges may be asked to retire if they are deemed physically or mentally disabled in a way that would "render them incapable of performing their judicial duties."[2]

Supreme Court

To serve on the supreme court, a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;
  • a state resident for at least three years;
  • a state bar member; and
  • under the age of 75.[1]

Court of Appeals

To serve on the court of appeals, a judge must be:

  • a qualified elector of his or her county of residence;
  • a state bar member; and
  • under the age of 75.[1]

Circuit Court

To serve on the circuit court, a judge must be:

  • a U.S. citizen;
  • a state resident for at least three years;
  • a resident of his or her circuit for at least one year;
  • a state bar member; and
  • under the age of 75.[1]


In the event of a midterm vacancy, the governor appoints a replacement. The appointee serves until the next general election occurring 60 or more days after the appointment, at which point he or she may run for election.[1]

Limited jurisdiction courts

Oregon's limited jurisdiction courts (the tax court, county courts, justice courts and municipal courts) vary in their selection processes and qualifications:[3]

Tax Court County Court Justice Court Municipal Court
Selection: Nonpartisan elections Nonpartisan elections Nonpartisan elections Appointment by city council OR election
Term: 6 years[4] 6 years[5] 6 years[6] 6 years[7]
Re-election method: Re-election Re-election Re-election Reappointment OR re-election
Qualifications: U.S. citizen; state resident for three years; state bar member; mandatory retirement age of 75 U.S. citizen; state elector; county resident one year U.S. citizen; state resident three years; resident of justice court district one year Varies (determined by city council or city charter)


Selection processes in Oregon have undergone several changes since the inception of the judiciary. Below is a timeline noting the various stages, from the most recent to the earliest:

  • 1976: A new constitutional amendment was approved by voters, giving the supreme court the authority to discipline judges and judicial candidates that violate judicial conduct codes.
  • 1969: The Oregon Court of Appeals was created, with judges elected to six-year terms.
  • 1961: The Oregon Tax Court was created by the Oregon Legislature to promote uniform application of tax laws statewide.
  • 1931: Judicial elections were made nonpartisan. Candidates were prohibited from indicating party affiliation on the ballot or identifying with a political party when applying for candidacy.
  • 1910: Established that supreme court justices are no longer to be elected to represent specific districts but are instead to be elected by voters statewide.
  • 1859: Established that judges are to be elected by popular vote to six-year terms, except county judges which are to be elected to serve for four years. Supreme court judges double as circuit court judges.[8]

Selection of federal judges

United States district court judges, who are selected from each state, go through a different selection process than that of state judges.

The district courts are served by Article III federal judges who are appointed for life, during "good behavior." They are usually first recommended by senators (or members of the House, occasionally). The President of the United States of America nominates judges, who must then be confirmed by the United States Senate in accordance with Article III of the United States Constitution.[9]

Step ApprovedA Candidacy Proceeds DefeatedD Candidacy Halts
1. Recommendation made by Congress member to the President President nominates to Senate Judiciary Committee President declines nomination
2. Senate Judiciary Committee interviews candidate Sends candidate to Senate for confirmation Returns candidate to President, who may re-nominate to committee
3. Senate votes on candidate confirmation Candidate becomes federal judge Candidate does not receive judgeship

See also

External links


OregonOregon Supreme CourtOregon Court of AppealsOregon Circuit CourtsOregon Tax CourtOregon County CourtsOregon Justice CourtsOregon Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of OregonUnited States bankruptcy court, District of OregonUnited States Court of Appeals for the Ninth CircuitOregon countiesOregon judicial newsOregon judicial electionsJudicial selection in OregonOregonTemplate.jpg