How Does the Arkansas Circuit Court Work
The Arkansas Circuit Court is a trial court with general jurisdiction over all cases not assigned by law to another court. The court also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeals from district courts, city courts, county courts, and police courts in all civil cases. It also has the power to determine appeals from the decisions of any inferior board, tribunal, or council in the contest of any township, county, or municipal office.
The court has general jurisdiction over all civil actions for claims above $100, and all criminal cases. However, the court typically only handles cases that are beyond the limited jurisdiction of other lower courts. These cases include felonies, certain misdemeanors, and lesser-included offenses. The Arkansas Circuit Court shares jurisdiction with the Local District Courts over civil claims up to $5,000, and with the State District Courts over civil claims up to $25,000. However, the court has exclusive jurisdiction over civil equity cases.
The Arkansas Circuit Court also handles juvenile, domestic relations, probate, and mental health cases. These include divorce, guardianships, child abuse and neglect, civil commitments, and administration of estates actions. It may refer to some types of criminal and civil cases to State District Courts. However, the referral of most domestic relations, civil, and probate matters requires the consent of all the parties.
The Arkansas Circuit Court has overseeing control over the final orders, judgments, and actions of county courts and county boards or officers. It has control and supervision over all local, municipal, and county officers or boards in the actions or proceedings in the assessing, taxing, seizing, or sale of properties.
The court and its judges have the authority to issue all proper writs, process, or orders necessary to exercise the given jurisdiction, according to the usages and principles of law. The Arkansas Circuit Court may issue writs of certiorari to any board or officer, town or city council, or any inferior tribunal of the respective counties to rectify any erroneous or void proceeding or regulation and to hear and determine the proceeding or regulation.
For cases relating to domestic relations, the Arkansas Circuit Court may, upon the application of all litigants, hear the matter privately. Such cases include divorce actions, proceedings for separate maintenance or alimony, proceedings on the maintenance or custody of children, annulment of marriage cases, and adoption proceedings.
Therefore, the circuit judges are authorized to exclude all individuals except the litigants, the attorneys, and court officers from such proceedings and the courtroom. The Arkansas circuit judge may also choose to hear such matters in chambers or privacy if the judge believes it to be in the best interests of the parties and society.
The Circuit Court has jurisdiction to remove any township or county officer from office for criminal conduct, corruption, incompetency, or gross immorality in office upon presentation, information, or indictment.
Also, by Section 16–13–208, the Arkansas Circuit Court does not adjourn. However, the court is deemed to be in recess while not engaged in transacting business. The Arkansas Circuit Court may fix times and places when the court is to be in session for the transaction of business. However, these scheduled sittings of the court do not preclude the court from transacting business at other times or places.
Regardless, the court can not convene a jury at a place other than the customary and regular place for holding court in each district or county. The candidates for Arkansas circuit judges run in nonpartisan elections. To be eligible to run for the position, a person must have been a licensed attorney in the State for at least six years before the date of assuming office. The judges serve for a six-year term.
The Circuit Court judges are not permitted to sit over any case in which the judge is interested in the outcome, has been of counsel in the case, is related to any party, or is otherwise disqualified under the State’s Code of Judicial Conduct. However, the parties may choose to waive the disqualification and allow the judge to preside over the case.
If a regular circuit judge joins the armed services of the United States, it does not have the effect of vacating the office. However, during the service, the judge does not enjoy or receive the salary or emoluments of the office. Regardless, the judge, after being discharged from service, may resume office and after that receive and enjoy the salary and emoluments until a regular judge is elected and qualified.
If the judge that joined the armed services of the United States is killed upon the field of battle, dies, is reported missing, or is unheard from for twelve months, the office of the judge becomes vacant following the Governor’s proclamation. After this, the vacancy is filled according to the law.
The Arkansas circuit judge of some highly populated counties may appoint one clerk for the county who must be a licensed attorney or a graduate of a law school approved by the Arkansas Board of Law Examiners. The law clerk serves at the discretion of the circuit judge the clerk is assigned to. The law clerk may also function as a court reporter for the Circuit Court or any division of the court.
The Arkansas Circuit Court law clerk has the power and duty to administer oaths and affirmations; to take affidavits, acknowledgments, and depositions; to conduct prejudgment and pretrial hearings, and make recommendations for dispositions to the circuit judge.
Interested persons may find Arkansas Circuit Court case records on the Administrative Office of the Courts CourtConnect website. The site allows users to
- Search for case records by the name of a party, business, or by case type
- Search for judgments against a business or person
- View case information and activities
- Find cases filed by date search
- Carry out docket filings by date search
To find Arkansas Circuit Court case records, click on the link to search by person name, business name, or case type. Enter in the last name of one of the parties, or the company name. To narrow down the search results, also provide the first and middle name, the date of birth, beginning and ending case filing date, the case, party type, the county, and the location code.
The results page furnishes necessary information on the cases that match the provided criteria. This includes the ID number, party type, case description, filing date, and the judge that presided over the case. For more information on the Arkansas Circuit Court case record, click on the highlighted case number. The additional details provided are:
- Case ID
- Citation Number
- Docket Start and Ending Date
- Filing date
- The court and its location
- The type and status of the case
- Parties to the case, including the judge presiding over it and the attorneys
- The motions filed in the course of proceedings
- The violations, if applicable
- The sentence information, if applicable
- The judgment given
Alternatively, interested persons may also visit the office of the clerk of the relevant court during business hours for Arkansas Circuit Court records. Note, there are 28 Circuit Court districts in Arkansas. For contact information on any of the Circuit Court clerks, go to the Arkansas judiciary website. Select the applicable judicial circuit or county. Click on “apply,” and the site provides the name, address, phone number, and fax number of the clerk of the Circuit Court.