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Rule Amendments

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RULES OF THE
OREGON TAX COURT
Magistrate Division

September 1, 1997

Magistrate Division
Oregon Tax Court
Supreme Court Building
1163 State Street
Salem, OR 97310
503 986-5650

RULES OF THE OREGON TAX COURT
MAGISTRATE DIVISION

PREFACE

Magistrate proceedings are intended to be informal and easy to use, while maintaining the respect due a court of law. If circumstances arise which are not covered by a Magistrate Division rule, rules of the Regular Division of the Tax Court may be used as a guide to the extent relevant. Other information as to the Magistrate Division may be found in Chapter 305 of the Oregon Revised Statutes.

The Rules reflect the responsibility of the parties to contribute to the efficient management and resolution of their dispute. The court requires full cooperation and disclosure so that surprise or misrepresentation do not disadvantage parties. These rules are designed to allow the court to resolve appeals in a fair and impartial way.

The rules should be cited as "Magistrate Division Rule" ("MDR"). For example, Rule 1, Section A, Subsection 3, paragraph a, shall be referred to as MDR 1A(3)(a).

RULE 1. FILING APPEALS

A. Filing complaint; Fee.

To begin an appeal to the Magistrate Division, a party must deliver or mail to the court all of the following:

(1) An original and one copy of a written complaint on the form provided by the court, or in similar form;

(2) A copy, if any, of the order, notice or other action being appealed; and

(3) The correct filing fee, either:

(a) $10 for each Small Claims procedure elected; or

(b) $25 for each complaint filed as to all other cases.

B. Contents of the complaint.

The complaint shall state the nature of the plaintiff's interest, the facts showing how the plaintiff is aggrieved by the order, act, omission or determination and the grounds upon which the plaintiff contends it should be reversed or modified.

C. Service.

Where the taxpayer is the appealing party, the taxpayer does not need to mail a copy of the complaint to the defendant. However, if the appealing party is not the taxpayer, the appealing party must serve by certified mail a copy of the complaint upon the taxpayer and file an affidavit with the court attesting to the service.

RULE 2. ELECTION OF SMALL CLAIMS PROCEDURE

A. Election.

A taxpayer may elect the Small Claims procedure for appeals if the requirements are met for a Small Claims case. The election must be made in the complaint and is irrevocable. The decision of the magistrate in a Small Claims case is final and may not be appealed.

B. Eligibility.

ORS 305.514 lists the types of cases qualifying for the Small Claims procedure. Generally, the following types of cases qualify:

(1) Income. Income tax cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $5,000.

(2) Property. Property tax cases where the only issue is the value of the property, and the assessed value appealed does not exceed $250,000.

RULE 3. EX PARTE COMMUNICATION

Parties shall provide to all other parties copies of every writing sent to the magistrate, e.g., letters, motions, documents. Parties and their representatives shall not privately communicate with a magistrate regarding any pending case.

RULE 4. RESPONSIVE PLEADING

The defendant shall file a written response to the complaint within 30 days from the date the complaint was served on the defendant. The response shall contain the names of the parties, the case number and a brief response to the plaintiff's claim.

RULE 5. SERVICE BY MAIL

Once a complaint has been filed, a response, motion or other writing may be served on the other party by first class mail. If service is by mail, it shall be deemed completed three days after the date the document is mailed if the address to which it is mailed is within the state, or seven days if mailed to an address outside the state.

RULE 6. MOTIONS

A. Requests to the court.

After the filing of a complaint, any request for an order of the court is a motion. Every motion, except those made during trial, shall be in writing and shall state the reasons and authorities for the motion and the relief requested.

B. Opposing Party's Response.

An opposing party should file a written response to any motion. A response to a motion for summary judgment must be filed within 20 days from the date a copy of the motion was served on the responding party. Responses to all other motions must be filed within ten days from date of service.

C. Oral Argument on Motions.

Oral argument will be granted on motions only if requested by one of the parties or the court.

RULE 7. MEDIATION

At the request of a party, or upon its own motion, the court may set a case for mediation. A magistrate acting as mediator may ask the parties to complete written reports or meet outside the presence of the mediator. The court shall set the date and time of the mediation and decide whether it will be by telephone or in person. Individuals participating in mediation, whether a party or a representative, must have authority to settle all issues. Failure to participate in mediation in good faith may cause that party to be sanctioned. No magistrate acting as a mediator shall be the trial magistrate in that same case, unless each party expressly waives this requirement in writing. Statements made during mediation shall be confidential.

RULE 8. SPECIAL DESIGNATION

After a complaint is filed in the Magistrate Division, plaintiffs wanting their case specially designated for hearing in the Regular Division of the Tax Court must make a written request to the judge of the Regular Division. The request must be accompanied by an original and one copy of the complaint, a copy, if any, of the notice, order, or other action being appealed, and a $50 filing fee, unless otherwise exempt. If the judge grants the request for special designation the complaint shall be filed and the matter heard in the Regular Division.

RULE 9. EVIDENCE

A. Matters Tried Anew.

All matters before the Magistrate Division are tried anew. Any evidence the parties want considered must be given to the magistrate, even though it was already presented in a prior administrative hearing. See Rule 12, Disclosure, for the required exchange of evidence.

B. Return of Evidence.

Written or tangible evidence will not be returned unless requested by the party offering it. Requests for the return of evidence must be made no later than 60 days after the decision of the magistrate.

RULE 10. EXHIBITS

Each document, report, or other paper is a separate exhibit. The parties shall have the responsibility of organizing and marking their exhibits. The pages of each exhibit shall be numbered. Each exhibit shall be identified by a label marked as follows:

A. Plaintiff's exhibits shall be marked numerically and have the case number on the label.

B. Defendant's exhibits shall be marked alphabetically and have the case number on the label.

C. Intervenor's exhibits shall be marked numerically with a capital "I" in front of the number and have the case number on the label.

RULE 11. DISCOVERY

Discovery is allowed in the Magistrate Division only when a party requests it and a magistrate orders it. When discovery has been ordered, Regular Division Rules 36 through 46 shall apply.

RULE 12. DISCLOSURE

A. Exchange Of Exhibits.

Each party shall provide the court and the other parties with copies of all materials to be introduced into evidence in support of that party's case. While the early exchange of information is encouraged, the materials must be received no later than 10 days before the trial date.

B. "Materials".

"Materials" includes, but is not limited to, writings, reports, notes, graphs, pictures, photographs, documents, maps, receipts, records, diaries, minutes, ledgers, returns, calculations, articles, papers, data and texts.

C. Sanctions.

A magistrate may sanction any party found to have withheld information that is later offered as an exhibit. The magistrate may order the payment of expenses, exclude the offered exhibit, or use any other measure the magistrate considers appropriate.

RULE 13. PROCEEDINGS BY TELEPHONE

The court may elect to conduct proceedings by telephone.

Any party may request to participate in proceedings by telephone. The request should be communicated to the court at least ten days before the scheduled event (e.g. ten days before mediation or trial).

RULE 14. CONDUCT AND DECORUM

The proceedings and participants shall at all times be subject to the direction and authority of the magistrate. All persons shall treat the court and each other with respect and courtesy. The magistrate shall be addressed as "Your Honor".

RULE 15. FINAL DECISIONS

Final decisions of the Magistrate Division shall be made in writing. When a case is ready to be decided, the magistrate will take it under advisement pending the preparation of a written decision.

RULE 16. CORRECTION OF MISTAKES; RELIEF FROM DECISION

The court may correct clerical mistakes or omissions at any time on its own motion. Within a reasonable time, any party may seek to correct a mistake, or request relief from a decision for reasons of inadvertence, excusable neglect or misconduct of another party. The request shall be made by filing a motion. Caution- Motions to correct a mistake or obtain relief do not extend the time for appealing a decision.

RULE 17. APPEALS OF DECISIONS

Except for Small Claims procedures, decisions of magistrates may be appealed to the Regular Division of the Tax Court. The appealing party shall file a complaint in the Regular Division and pay the $50 filing fee within 60 days of the date of mailing of the magistrate's decision. The complaint shall specifically identify the case number of the appealed decision.

RULE 18. JUDGMENT

All decisions of the magistrate shall become final if not appealed within 60 days of the date of mailing of the magistrate's decision. After a decision becomes final, the magistrate will enter a judgment consistent with his or her decision.

RULE 19: ENFORCEMENT

The court may enforce any decision, order or judgment directing a party to perform a specific act by imposing sanctions on the party refusing or neglecting to comply. Sanctions may include those for contempt as authorized by statute

IT IS SO ORDERED this ____ day of September, 1997.

____________________________________

Scot A. Sideras
Presiding Magistrate

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