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Deschutes County Access to Justice Committee offers info amid COVID-19 pandemic

Deschutes County courthouse
KTVZ file
Deschutes County courthouse

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Deschutes County Access to Justice Committee is a joint committee formed by the Deschutes County Circuit Court and the Deschutes County Bar Association in partnership with the Deschutes Public Library.

Since its inception in 2016, DCATJ has identified three prongs to reduce the Access to Justice gap: 1) access to attorneys; 2) access to documents; and 3) access to information.

At this time, we recognize that access to attorneys and/or access to legal information for some members in our community is critical. Part of addressing this need is getting information out to the community about where they can go. We want to make individuals aware of the following information:

Lawyer in the Library Program is up and running

The Lawyer in the Library program is currently operating remotely using Zoom conferencing software. The software is free to individuals, and telephone appointments are also available for those who do not have access to Zoom. Spanish interpreter services will continue to be available on demand.

Lawyer in the Library provides free 30-minute consultations with a volunteer attorney in the areas of family law and general civil matters (such as employment law, landlord tenant, estate planning, public benefits).

Appointments will be held remotely on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-8:00pm. Sign up is required in advance.

Information regarding sign up is on the library’s website:

Information and Resources related to COVID 19 online Oregonlawhelp.Org has published a statewide page relating to COVID-19 issues, including housing, employment, emergency public assistance, domestic violence, consumer protection and public health. The website is a free service which is made possible by the ongoing support of legal aid programs in Oregon. The specific page for COVID 19-related issues can be found at:

Court Services

The following information is summarized from the Deschutes County Circuit Court:

Court operations are consistent with Chief Justice Order 20-006 and Amended Chief Justice Order 20-006. Court operations are currently limited to three, and at times four, courtrooms. Most hearings are conducted by conference call. In-person appearances are limited. Some hearing types are conducted by video and the Court is working to expand video opportunities. Current dockets are populated primarily with criminal cases and urgent matters such as stalking, restraining, immediate danger and dependency hearings. To maximize in-court work production, remaining available court time is used to hear family and civil motions.

Protective Orders

The deadline for filing protective orders (FAPA, SAPO, etc.) remains at 11:00 AM each court day. Please note that hearings on initial petitions has been moved to 1:15 PM on Mondays and 3:00 PM Tuesday through Friday. Ex parte Petitions are heard by conference call.

Saving Grace has closed their on-site advocate office, however, persons seeking assistance in filing a protective order petition may talk to the Saving Grace Advocate by calling 541-815- 1801 between 8:30 AM and 11:30 AM, Monday through Friday.

Family Law Facilitator

The Family Law Facilitator on-site office is closed. Persons needing assistance can e-mail the facilitator at to request a telephone consultation and provide copies of the paperwork they need reviewed. Currently telephone appointments are available same-day or next-day.

Landlord – Tenant

Landlord-Tenant cases may be filed with the court; however, petitioners should first ensure that any case filed is legally permitted under Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-13 (for example, at the time of this press release, the Executive Order has placed a temporary hold on residential evictions based solely on unpaid rent). First appearances are currently being set in June. It is unknown at this time whether mediation services will be available in June and, if available, what form they will take.

Small Claims

Small claims cases may be filed with the court. First appearances are currently being set in July. It is unknown at this time whether mediation services will be available in June and, if available, what form they will take.

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