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Court Clerk 541.574.0616
Presiding Judge: The Honorable Jeffrey Pridgeon

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City of Newport Municipal Court


Municipal Court

 

 

11-17-20

Municipal Court will be closed until December 2nd.


 

Purpose

This page is designed to provide information about court proceedings. It is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. If you have questions about your best course of action, what plea you should enter, your rights, or the consequence of a conviction of the offense for which you are charged, you should contact an attorney. Neither the clerk, judge, nor city is allowed to give you legal advice.

Your Rights

Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. In the case of a violation charge, Oregon law requires the city prove you guilty of the offense with which you are charged by the preponderance of the evidence. Every defendant has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify (without consequences). You have the right to retain an attorney and have them try your case or answer your questions. Since offenses in this court are punishable only by fine and not by incarceration, you do not have the right to appointed counsel.

You have the right to a trial before the judge, commonly called a bench trial. At trial, you have many rights including:

  • The right to have notice of the complaint/ticket;
  • The right to hear all testimony introduced against you;
  • The right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you;
  • The right to testify on your own behalf;
  • The right not to testify. Your refusal to do so may not be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt. However, if you do testify, the city has the opportunity to cross-examine you; and
  • You may call witnesses to testify on your behalf at the trial, and have the court issue a subpoena (a court order) to any witnesses to ensure their appearance at trial. You may also offer documentary evidence such as photographs or diagrams.

Appearance

In addition to your rights, you also have some legal responsibilities. The law requires you to make an appearance in your case. Your appearance date is noted on your citation. You or your attorney may appear in person in open court, by mail, or you may deliver your plea in person to the court. The options are listed on the back side of your citation.

Your first appearance is to determine your plea. You must be present at the date and time listed on your citation, unless you have made an appearance in writing or by choosing another option on the reverse side of the citation. If your case is called and you do not appear, you may be found guilty by default with fines and fees assessed.

If you waive a trial and plead guilty or no contest, you may present extenuating circumstances for the judge to consider when setting your fine.

If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a trial. When you make your appearance by mail, the court must receive your plea before your scheduled appearance date. If you plead not guilty, the court will notify you of the date of your trial. It is imperative that the court have your most recent mailing address on file as the court may send important information to you. Your telephone number would also be helpful in the event of scheduling changes.

If you plead guilty or no contest, you waive your right to a trial. You must mail or deliver your fine to the court by your appearance date unless you appear in person.

Pleas

Unless your case is covered by the information later in this page, you may enter one of these three pleas:

Plea of Not Guilty – A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt, and requires the city to prove the charge. A plea of not guilty does not waive any of your rights. A plea of not guilty does not prevent a plea of guilty or no contest at a later time.

Plea of Guilty – By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the alleged violation.

Plea of No Contest – A plea of no contest means that while you are not admitting guilt, you do not contest the city’s charge against you.

If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be found guilty and should be prepared to pay the fine. A plea of guilty waives all of the trial rights discussed earlier. You should contact the court regarding how to make payments if you are unable to pay the entire fine and cost.

Responsibility of Judge

The municipal judge is responsible for conducting a fair, impartial, and public trial. The case brought against you is brought by the city, not the court.

Trial Procedures

You must be present at the time set for your trial. If you are not present when the case is called, the judge may find you guilty and assess a fine.

The city will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you. Generally, this is the police officer who issued you the citation.

You have the right to cross-examine each witness. You may not, however, argue with the witness. Cross-examination must be in the form of questions.

After the city, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident. The city has the right to cross-examine any witness that you call.

If you so desire, you may testify on your own behalf, but as a defendant, you may not be compelled to testify. It is your choice, and your silence cannot be used against you. If you do testify, the city has the right to cross-examine you.

After all the testimony is concluded, both sides can make a closing argument. This is your opportunity to tell the court why you are not guilty of the offense. The city, with the burden of proof, has the right to present the first and last arguments.

In determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence, the judge may consider only the testimony of witnesses and any evidence admitted during the trial.

Courses

If you are charged with a minor traffic offense and have an excellent driving record, you may be eligible to ask the judge to take a driving safety course in exchange for a dismissal, or a reduced fine. The request must be made by the appearance date on the citation. It must be made in person, by counsel, or by mail. At the time of the request, you must do the following:

  • Plead guilty or no contest;
  • Pay a reasonable administrative fee, if required;
  • Present proof of financial responsibility (insurance), if requested;
  • Present a valid Oregon Driver License, if requested;
  • Have not taken a driving safety course for a traffic offense within the last 48 months;
  • Are not currently taking a course for another traffic violation.

If you do not take the course in the time required, fail to present the court with any of the required documents, fail to pay any administrative fees assessed or receive a new citation, you must return to court. If you are not present at the scheduled hearing, it will result in a conviction and a fine being assessed.

Deferred Disposition

The judge may, in its sole discretion, defer disposition on some cases.

Courtroom Etiquette

As with any courtroom, certain etiquette is required.

Only one person at a time may speak during a court proceeding. Speak clearly and loudly. The large courtroom can absorb sound, making it difficult to hear mumbling and soft-spoken voices. Speaking clearly and loudly ensures that the judge hears all of the testimony and evidence presented.

Generally, you will address the court from a counsel table in front of the judge at the head of the courtroom.

Prohibited in the Courtroom

  • Weapons of any sort
  • Electronic equipment (unless approved by the court)
  • Inappropriate attire or hats (except those worn for religious purposes)
  • Food, beverages, chewing gum, tobacco, or any smoking
  • Disruptive persons (including children)
  • Animals other than service animals established by the ADA
  • Audio and/or video recording of any kind without the prior authorization of the judge

Cell Phones and Electronic Devices

Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off or placed in silent mode. Unapproved use of cell phones and other electronic devices is not allowed in the courtroom.

Respect

Be respectful of the judge, court staff, attorneys, witnesses, and litigants. Maintain a respectful attitude at all times in the court building and in the courtroom.

ADA Public Notice

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against any qualified individual with a disability. The City of Newport does not permit discrimination against any individual on the basis of physical or mental disability in accessing the judicial programs. In accordance with the ADA, if necessary, the Newport Municipal Court will provide reasonable modifications and or accommodations in order to access all programs and services to qualified individuals with disabilities.

The courtroom is equipped with extremely sensitive microphones and recording devices allowing us to provide our hearing-impaired participants with assistive listening devices, upon request.

If you need assistance, have questions, or need additional information, please contact the court clerk well in advance of your scheduled appearance.

Disclaimer

This page and the information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek legal counsel for advice on legal matters.