Last updated: October 25, 2013
It's easy to love Portland, but nobody enjoys going to court ... right? Not so fast. Even going to the courthouse can be weirdly pleasant (right in line with the motto, "Keep Portland Weird"). It certainly helps that we have excellent public transit and that we are the gold-standard for city planning. And maybe court doesn't seem so bad when the building is surrounded by green trees and rose bushes. The criminal courts can't be too scary after the City of Roses was named Third Safest City in America in 2009. Add in beautiful city parks, craft beer, and tempting food carts, and jury duty makes a wonderful opportunity for a picnic.
Before you head off to court, review this guide so that you can have a pleasant day with hardly any fuss.
This is the main courthouse, and it is located in downtown Portland. Be sure to check out a map before heading to court because the building is surrounded by one-way streets that might confuse visitors. As the main courthouse, it handles most of the county's civil, criminal, and domestic relations proceedings. In downtown Portland, the majority of the parking lots are operated by City Center Parking. There are a number of reports out there of the company's poor service. If you can, take the MAX into downtown. All of the Light Rail lines as well as the #10 and #14 bus lines will take you to the court.
The Justice Center is for adult criminal proceedings. It's about three blocks from the main courthouse, so if you accidentally go to the wrong building, you're not far off. Head one block over. The entrance is on Third, between Main and Madison, facing the park.
This facility is off of I-84. Take the 68th Avenue exit. You may not be able to see the building from 68th with all of the shrubs, but both the first and second right turn off of the highway will put you into the correct parking lot.
This new facility sits in Rockwood and replaces the old Gresham Courthouse. It handles criminal misdemeanors and ordinance violations as well as landlord-tenant disputes and various hearings. Parties may also file many documents in the East County Courthouse. The MAX #20 bus and Blue Line stop near the courthouse. If you drive, the parking lot is behind the Taco Bell Lot.
The courtrooms in this building handle civil and criminal matters. The building takes up a city block with an entrance on Second Avenue, between Main and Lincoln. Don't be afraid of the trees and bushes that seem to block the building. There's limited 2-hour street parking on the courthouse's block, but there's plenty more on the surrounding streets. See the court's website for a map of services.
The municipal court handles traffic, parking, and ordinance violations. The building is accessible on the western end of the Blue Line, just three blocks from the Hillsboro Central MAX station.
This is the federal courthouse for the Portland Division. It serves almost a dozen counties, including Multnomah, and Washington Counties. See the division's website for a complete county list and driving directions.
This building is the site for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As a result, many litigants come from out of the area. The Ninth Circuit's website lists transit, dining, and hotel accommodations for visitors. The site also features a guide for "Understanding the Federal Courts."