Motions for summary judgment - procedures

July 2007
By Judge John Wittmayer, Multnomah County Circuit Court

The Tips from the Bench column of February, 2006 discussed the procedures for setting civil motions, generally. The bar is continuing to experience some confusion on these procedures, so this month's column will touch on how motions for summary judgment are set.

If your case has not been designated by the presiding judge a complex case or has otherwise not been assigned by the presiding judge to a particular judge for all motions, it matters not that a particular judge has heard other civil motions in your case. Your motion for summary judgment will not necessarily be assigned to the judge who has previously heard motions in your case. To set your motion for summary judgment call the court's civil calendaring section at 503.988.3168. Do not contact the office of the judge who has heard previous motions.

Most summary judgment motions are heard by judges pro tem who have volunteered to help the court with these matters. These judges pro tem have over the years volunteered thousands and thousands of hours to hear these motions. The presiding judge and the other judges on this court are grateful for this volunteer help.

If a party wishes the motion for summary judgment to be heard by an elected/appointed judge instead of a judge pro tem, a request to presiding court is all that is required (no motion for change of judge or affidavit is required). Presiding court has a form motion/order for you to use for this request. It is available from the presiding judge's office, or you can find it in the forms appendix to the Attorney Reference Manual, which is available online at You must present this request at ex parte (9:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. each day) within 24 hours (excluding non-court days) from learning of the assignment to a judge pro tem. If the Presiding Judge has approved a request for the motion to be heard by a regular judge, you must provide a conformed copy of the order to the civil calendar clerk in room 210. The clerk will then reassign the motion. It will likely be assigned to Judge Henry Breithaupt of the Oregon Tax Court, who has made himself available to help us. If Judge Breithaupt is unavailable or a motion for change of judge is filed, the motion may be sent to any judge of this court, other than the family law judges, the presiding judge or the chief criminal judge.

If your motion for summary judgment is assigned to a judge pro tem, and you need to reschedule your motion, you also need an order from the presiding judge. A form for this is also available online (see above). The volunteer judges pro tem have appointments from the chief justice to sit only on particular days. A volunteer judge pro tem may not move the hearing date to another date unless she/he has an order of appointment from the chief justice for the subsequent day.

Practice tip

When your motion for summary judgment is assigned to a judge pro tem or to Judge Breithaupt, you are required to send copies of all motions, responses, replies, and other related materials directly to the judge pro tem at her/his office, at the address in the OSB Directory. Submissions for judge breithaupt are to be sent to him at his office at the tax court in Salem. Of course, when your motion for summary judgment is assigned to one of the regular judges, you are also required to deliver copies of all submissions directly to the assigned judge's office.