Arkansas Court Records
What are Arkansas Bankruptcy Records?
In Arkansas, bankruptcy records refer to court records generated during bankruptcy proceedings in the state. Typically, bankruptcy is a legal process where the court decides how insolvent debtors will deal with unpaid obligations. During the legal proceeding, the court may either discharge, forgive, or dismiss the bankruptcy case based on their findings. All findings of bankruptcy cases in Arkansas are documented and made readily available for public inspection. In other words, bankruptcy records are considered public records in Arkansas. These records are maintained and disseminated by the Arkansas Bankruptcy Court and may also be available on third-party sites. To find Arkansas court records pertaining to a bankruptcy hearing, contact the court where the proceeding was held or utilize third-party repositories.
What do Arkansas Bankruptcy Court Records Contain?
In Arkansas, bankruptcy records contain information about the debtor, creditor, and other filing information. Generally, Arkansas bankruptcy records feature the following information:
- Name(s) of the debtor(s)
- Type of debtor
- Case number
- Debtor’s county of residence or principal place of office
- Last four digits of the debtor’s social security code or the tax payer’s identification number
- Nature of bankruptcy
- Chapter of bankruptcy code under which the petition is filed
- Nature of debts
- Creditor information
- Case discharge date and conditions
Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information in Arkansas?
Yes, bankruptcy records are considered public information in Arkansas and in the United States as a whole. The Federal Records Act and Freedom of Information Act give members of the public the right to access and copy public bankruptcy records in the state. Bankruptcy records are available on various public platforms including local newspapers. However, the right to public access is not an umbrella law. Some sensitive financial and personal information are exempted from public view. Such details include the social security number, bank account numbers, full names of minors, passwords, trade secrets, and more. In addition, bankruptcy records sealed by court order are not public information. Certain old bankruptcy records are disposed/destroyed pursuant to 44 USC § 3303. Such records are no longer public by virtue of age.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Get Arkansas Bankruptcy Records
Persons looking to get bankruptcy records in Arkansas are required to query the office responsible for keeping such records. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas handles all bankruptcy petitions in the state. All requests for bankruptcy records within this court’s jurisdiction should be directed to the clerk of the court. These records may be accessed in one of the different ways:
- Using available online resources (managed by courts or third-party websites)
- By making in-person requests to the record custodian
- By sending written requests to the office of the clerk of courts
- By phone via the Multiple Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS)
How to Get Arkansas Bankruptcy Court Records In Person
Step 1: Identify the Right Court
The Arkansas Bankruptcy Court has two divisional offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville. Court sessions are held in both locations and the clerks of both divisions process and release copies of bankruptcy records maintained within their respective jurisdictions. To get bankruptcy records filed in Little Rock, requesters are required to visit the office located at:
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
300 W. 2nd Street
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 918-5500
Clerk’s Office: (501) 918-5509
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
35 E. Mountain Street, Room 316
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Phone: (479) 582-9800
Clerk’s Office: (479) 582-9803
Step 2: Collect Relevant information and Visit the Appropriate Courthouse
Requesters are expected to collect the basic information needed to facilitate the record search. Required information may include case number, debtor’s name, filing date, and status of the case. Those who do not have this information may use the Multiple Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) to get them. The system allows callers to most limited case information by dialing 1-866-222-8029 (toll-free). In addition to the aforementioned information, call-in requesters can also get the chapter, last four digits of social security number, nature of the case, asset information, debtor’s attorney, as well as the date of discharge and status of the case. Callers may even discover the judge and trustee assigned to a case and other basic case information.
After gathering all required details, requesters should visit the clerk’s office in the courthouse where the case was filed. Both courthouses in Little Rock and Fayette have PACER public access terminals where visitors may view and copy bankruptcy records without staff help. PACER is short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records and is a nationwide system used to access various types of federal records including bankruptcy records.
Alternatively, querying parties can submit written requests to the court clerk’s office. The office working time is weekdays from 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. The court does not work on federal holidays.
It is important to note that visitors are not allowed into both court buildings without undergoing security checks. As such, requesters must bring along a valid ID for proper identification and admittance.
Step 3: Pay the Required Fees and Collect the Record of Interest
The PACER computer terminals available at the Arkansas Bankruptcy Courthouses may be accessed free of charge. However, if copies are also requested, users are then required to pay nominal fees for printing the required documents. Using the printer at the terminal costs 10 cents per page. Note that documents printed from the terminal are uncertified and may be used for informational purposes only. Certified copies may be obtained from the clerk’s office at $11 per document. Uncertified copies are available for 50 cents per page at this office. Acceptable payment methods include money orders and cashier’s checks payable to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Requesters can contact the clerks at the addresses above to determine other available payment methods.
How to Get Arkansas Bankruptcy Records by Mail
Querying parties can request Arkansas bankruptcy records by mail by preparing a written request containing enough details of the case of interest. It is recommended to include the case number, debtor’s name, date filed, date of discharge, the status of the case, and the judge assigned to the case. If possible, mail-in requesters should include the trustee assigned to the case, asset information, and other basic information to facilitate the record retrieval process. Those who do not have access to this information may retrieve it from the Multi-court voice system by dialing 1-866-222-8029. Note that the case number, participant name, or the last four digits of the debtor’s social security number is required to use the voice system.
Requesters are required to send a written request along with a self-addressed stamped envelope and adequate fees to the addresses outlined above. Typically, mail-in requesters must pay a $31 search fee before their record requests are processed by the Arkansas Bankruptcy Court clerk’s office. The same copy and certification fees apply for both in-person and mail-in requesters. That is, mail-in requesters are expected to pay 50 cents per page copied and $11 for each certified bankruptcy court document. Acceptable payment methods include cashier’s check and money order made out to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. As a general rule of thumb, cash payments are not accepted. It is recommended to contact the clerk beforehand to get additional information about the mail request process and applicable local guidelines.
How to Get Arkansas Bankruptcy Court Records Online
Arkansas residents can get bankruptcy court records online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database. While this database is centralized and maintained at the federal capacity, Arkansas has a specific PACER Court Website where they can find bankruptcy records filed within the state’s jurisdiction only. The PACER databases are available round the clock. Using the databases requires an account and billing information.
The PACER portal is only free for researchers, persons with poverty affidavits, and users who do not accumulate more than $30 usage in a quarter. Generally, each page viewed using PACER costs 10 cents. This per-page charge applies to pages resulting from every search. If a search yields no matches, the “no result found page” counts as one page. The maximal charge for image documents is $3. In addition, digital audio files are charged $2.40. Users are recommended to refer to the Fee Schedule on the PACER FAQ page for additional information about fees. To get exempted from paying PACER quarterly charges, interested persons may check if they qualify by querying the clerk of court. Essentially, those that qualify are required to file a motion for exemption.
Alternatively, requesters may search Arkansas bankruptcy court records on third-party websites such as Courtrecords.org. Such websites provide solid starting points when searching single or multiple records.
How do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in Arkansas
To find out if a bankruptcy case is closed in Arkansas, interested persons may use the Multiple Court Voice Case Information by dialing 1 (866) 222-8029. This toll-free number allows users to determine the status of a specific bankruptcy case through an automated voice system. Callers are prompted to provide the case number, case name, or last four digits of the debtor’s social security number before the required information is divulged to them.
It is also possible to access the status of a case via the public access terminal at the courthouse or by querying the court clerk in the district where the case was filed.
How to Get Closed Bankruptcy Court Records in Arkansas
In Arkansas, closed bankruptcy records are those filed between 1996-2001. These records are not filed and stored electronically on the ECF. Instead, they are maintained by the Federal Records Center of the National Archive and Records Administration. To retrieve the records, requesters will need the case number for the case they are trying to access. There are separate online forms for the eastern and western districts of Arkansas. As such, requesters are required to click on the applicable district and then search using the case number (for instance, YY-#####). If the case number is not known, interested parties may retrieve it by calling the automated Multiple Voice Case Information System at 1 (866) 222-8029. After inputting the case number in the particular district’s search box, users must hit Submit until the desired case information and further instructions pops up on the screen. Additional information needed to locate closed bankruptcy case files in Arkansas include the city in which the court is located, transfer/accession number, NARA location number, and agency box number.
Note that cases prior to 1996 are no longer accessible. This is because bankruptcy cases prior to 1996 have been destroyed in accordance with the 44 USC Section 3303.
Can a Bankruptcy be Expunged in Arkansas?
No, a bankruptcy cannot be expunged in Arkansas. This is to protect the public right of access to such records. However, 44 USC Section 3303 ensures that bankruptcy records older than 15 years in storage are destroyed. This destruction law practically applies to bankruptcy records filed earlier than 1996.
While bankruptcy records cannot be expunged, they can be sealed by court order. For a good cause, a bankruptcy judge may approve a motion under seal. This rule may be reversed or reinforced by the United State District Court on creditors’ appeal.
On a related note, chapter 7 bankruptcy filing stays on credit reports for ten years while chapter 13 filing remains on credit reports for seven years.