State Funding Authority History
In 1907, the Oregon Legislature authorized the establishment of county law libraries and provided for their funding through an allocated portion of each filing fee. 1907 Oregon Laws Ch. 239
From 1927 to 1963, all counties except Multnomah collected a fee that ranged from up to 10% in 1927 to 40% of the uniform filing fee in 1963. From 1907 to 1965, Multnomah Law Library received a flat fee set by statute ranging from $1 to $2. 1927 Oregon Laws Ch. 222, etc.
In 1965, all county law libraries were funded by up to 40% of the uniform filing fee.
In 1981, the judicial branch assumed administration of the court system, including all court personnel, from the counties. Law libraries and courthouses remained under the counties.
In 1997, funding was reduced to up to 33% of the uniform filing fee.
In 2007, funding was further reduced to up to 28% of the uniform filing fee.
In 2011, HB 2710 eliminated the law library portion of filing fees and directed all revenue from the filing fees into the State’s General Fund. HB 5056 appropriated $7.4 million of General Fund to the Judicial Department for distributions to the counties for law libraries or law library services during the 2011-13 biennium with the appropriation to be based on the prior biennium’s collections of civil filing fees in each county’s circuit court. The amount was equal to the average biennial amount generated from the law library fee during the 2005-07 and 2007-09 biennia. The State Court Administrator was directed to conduct a survey and file a report on county law libraries by February of each odd numbered year.
In 2012, the 2011-13 biennium General Fund appropriation for county law libraries was reduced by 3.5%. The county law library appropriation was combined with the mediation and arbitration program appropriation into a single $14.28 million appropriation with each county having authority over distribution. Multnomah and Washington counties were permitted to each use up to $716,000 of the monies from these appropriations for court facility capital outlays. The State Court Administrator was directed to report on the historic level of funding that programs now receiving General Fund in lieu of fee revenues had prior to the October 2011 transfer of court fee revenues to the General Fund.
Current State Funding Authority
ORS 21.005 Transfers to General Fund. Except as otherwise provided by law, all amounts collected as fees and charges in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Oregon Tax Court and the circuit courts shall be transferred to the State Court Administrator for deposit in the General Fund. [2011 c.595 §1]
ORS 21.007 Legislative intent relating to funding certain programs, services and activities. It is the intent of the Legislative Assembly that funding be provided to the following entities by appropriations each biennium to fund programs, services and activities that were funded through court fees before the 2011-2013 biennium:
- To the counties of this state for the purposes of funding mediation services, conciliation services and other services in domestic relations cases.
- To the counties of this state for the purposes of funding the operation of law libraries or of providing law library services.
- To Portland State University and the University of Oregon to fund the programs and expenses of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government and the University of Oregon School of Law under ORS 36.100 to 36.238 and 183.502.
- To the Housing and Community Services Department for the purpose of funding programs that defray the cost of rent for dwelling units for very low income households.
- To the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to fund clinical legal education programs at accredited institutions of higher education that provide civil legal services to victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault.
- To the State Department of Agriculture for the purpose of funding mediation programs established by the department, other than individual farm credit mediations.
- To the Judicial Department for the purposes of funding the appellate settlement program established under ORS 2.560.
- To the Department of Human Services for the funding of the Office of Children’s Advocate. [2011 c.595 §3; 2012 c.48 §8; 2013 c.768 §100; 2015 c.767 §44]
ORS 9.815 County law libraries and law library services. (1) Each county shall:
- Operate a free law library at a location that is convenient and available at reasonable hours; or
- Provide free law library services at one or more locations that are convenient and available at reasonable hours.
- A county governing body may enter into a contract with a law library association or other organization for the operation of the law library, or the provision of law library services, required by this section. [2011 c.224 §1; 2011 c.595 §176]
ORS 9.820 Law libraries in Multnomah County. In all counties containing more than 400,000 inhabitants, according to the latest federal decennial census, the governing body of the county may contract with any law library association or corporation owning and maintaining a law library in the county at or convenient to the courthouse, for the use of the library by the judges of the circuit and county courts, county commissioners, district attorney and all members of the bar. [Amended by 1963 c.519 §1; 1965 c.619 §3; 2011 c.595 §105]
ORS 9.825 Law library surveys; reports. (1) The State Court Administrator shall conduct every two years an electronic survey of all county law libraries and the law library services provided by counties. The survey must request information on: (a) The extent to which counties provide access to statutes, rules, cases and other legal information, whether through printed materials or electronic access; (b) Staffing in county law libraries; (c) The number and types of persons who use county law libraries and other law library services; (d) The hours that county law libraries are open, or access to law library services is available; (e) The hours that law library staff assistance is available, either in person, by telephone or through the Internet; and
(f) The extent to which persons who use county law libraries and law library services have free or low-cost public, on-site access to computers, printers, copiers and other electronic devices provided by the counties.
(2) The State Court Administrator shall submit a report to the Legislative Assembly in the manner provided by ORS 192.245 based on each survey conducted under this section. The report must be delivered to the Legislative Assembly not later than February 1 of each odd-numbered year. [2011 c.224 §5]
ORS 9.830 [Amended by 1965 c.619 §4; 1981 s.s. c.3 §78; 1983 c.763 §36; repealed by 2011 c.595 §104] ORS 9.840 [Amended by 1963 c.519 §2; 1965 c.619 §5; 1981 c.3 §79; 1983 c.763 §37; 1997 c.801 §147; 2011 c.224 §2; repealed by 2011 c.595 §104] ORS 9.850 [Amended by 1963 c.519 §3; 1965 c.619 §6; 2003 c.14 §11; 2011 c.224 §3; repealed by 2011 c.595 §104]
Brief County Authority History
On November 29, 1927, the Clackamas County Bar Association passed a resolution requesting the County Court of Clackamas County, Oregon to pass a resolution declaring it’s purpose to establish, maintain and operate such a law library and filed the resolution with the Court Clerk.
It was resolved at its regular meeting on December 9, 1927 that the County Court of Clackamas County, Oregon (proposed from and after the passage of the resolution) to establish, maintain and operate a law library as provided for in Chapter 222 General Laws of Oregon 1927 and the County Clerk of said County was hereby authorized and directed to collect the additional fee therefor as provide by law. Clackamas County Bar Association minutes.
A 1939 Attorney General opinion states that “the county court is the fiscal agency of the county and, as such, it is charged with the duty and vested with the authority of determining the business of the county, including the acquisition and maintenance of county property.” IH Van Winkle October 10, 1939
On January 1, 1978, administrative responsibility for the Law Library was assigned to the Circuit Court Administrator. The “consolidation of related functions of County government for more effective administrative control” did not affect the County employee status of Law Library staff. Clackamas County Order No. 77-2211
In 1981, a judicial order stated the phrase “judicial employees” includes Law Library staff “in order to preserve the doctrine of separation of powers as it applies to the Clackamas County judiciary, under the constitution and statutes, and to provide consistency in the hiring, compensation and overall administration of employees of the judiciary.” Clackamas Circuit Court Oder, July 23, 1981
On March 17, 1983, the Clackamas Board ordered that the Law Library would remain a function of County government, under the administrative control of the Clackamas County Bar Association. Clackamas County Board of Commissioners Order No. 83-515
On December 5, 2002, the Clackamas Board ordered that the Law Library would remain a function of County government, under the administrative control of the Clackamas County Bar Association Law Library Committee, and that the Judicial Member of the committee retain appointment and supervisory powers for the Law Librarian and other County law library staff positions. Clackamas County Board of Commissioners Order No. 2002-237