The Supreme Court is the highest court in the Oregon judicial branch. The court has seven elected justices. They choose one of their own to serve a six-year term as Chief Justice. The only court that may reverse or modify a decision of the Oregon Supreme Court is the United States Supreme Court.
The justices on the Oregon Supreme Court are
- Thomas A. Balmer, Chief Justice (term expires January 2015)
- Rives Kistler (term expires January 2017)
- Martha Lee Walters (term expires January 2015)
- Virginia L. Linder (term expires January 2019)
- Jack L. Landau (term expires January 2017)
- David V. Brewer (term expires January 2019)
- Richard C. Baldwin (term expires January 2019)
When the Supreme Court has a vacancy or otherwise needs another judge to help (for example, to substitute for a judge who is ill or has a conflict of interest), it may appoint a qualified retired member of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals judge, a circuit judge, or a Tax Court judge to serve as judge pro tempore, or temporary judge.
The Supreme Court has "discretionary review" of cases from the Court of Appeals. A party who is dissatisfied with the Court of Appeals' decision may petition the Supreme Court to review that decision. The Supreme Court can choose to accept or deny the petition.
In some cases, the Supreme Court has "direct review," which means that the case goes directly to the Supreme Court without first being considered by the Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the following matters.
- Direct review of circuit court decisions in
- death penalty cases
- certain labor law injunctions
- Direct review from decisions of the Oregon Tax Court
- Discretionary review of Court of Appeals decisions and certified questions from the Court of Appeals
- Direct review of certain agency proceedings, including
- prison siting decisions
- Energy Facility Siting Council decisions
- certain solid waste disposal site selection decisions
- Direct but discretionary review of certified questions of law from a federal court or court of another state
- Original proceedings (court has discretion whether to hear a particular case), including
- mandamus—orders an official to carry out a certain legal function
- habeas corpus—challenges legality of personal detention
- quo warranto—challenges an official's right to hold office
- challenges to ballot titles, explanatory statements, and statements of fiscal impact
- reapportionment review (every ten years)
- Practice of law proceedings—admissions to the practice of law, and disciplinary proceedings to reprimand, suspend, or disbar attorneys after trial by the Disciplinary Board
- Judicial fitness and disability—disciplinary proceedings to censure, suspend, or remove of a judge after investigation and recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Fitness and disability