How Does the Supreme Court of Arkansas Work?
The Arkansas Supreme Court is both the highest court and the court of last resort in Arkansas. It was established in 1836, deriving its authority from Article 7, section 4, and Amendment 80, section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution. The Arkansas Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over cases involving:
- Appeals on the interpretation or construction of the constitution of Arkansas;
- Criminal cases where a death penalty or life imprisonment was imposed;
- Appeals relating to elections and election procedures;
- Appeals involving discipline of attorneys and the power of the Supreme Court to regulate the practice of law;
- Appeals relating to the discipline and disability of judges;
- Petitions for quo warranto publication, injunction or mandamus directed to the State County or Municipal office;
- All appeals required to be heard by the Supreme Court
The Arkansas Supreme Court typically hears cases on appeal from trial courts. Filing of cases occurs between 8 A.M- 5 P.M from Monday to Friday. Note that in Arkansas Supreme Court, filing requirements are provided in Rule 4–2(a) of the Supreme Court rule, and counsels must obtain a filling form from the Supreme Court clerk. Upon getting and completing the form, each party is expected to pay a fee, depending on the subject of the filing. The Arkansas Supreme Court filing fees are as follows
- Extraordinary writ petition electronic record- $185.00
- Extraordinary writ petition conversational paper record- $165.00
- Court and misdemeanor petition for recording -$25.00
- Court and misdemeanor petition for review-$25.00
- Civil and Misdemeanor petition electronic record-$185.00
- Civil and Misdemeanor petition paper -$165.00
- Original action-$165 paper or $185 electronic record
After the court grants a petition or review, the clerk notifies all attorneys involved to submit six paper copies of the briefs previously presented at the appeal court. The Arkansas Supreme Court allows any party to request for oral argument within ten days after it grants the petition or review. The party must submit the request to the clerk and the other parties involved in the case.
Oral arguments may be included as part of the Supreme Court’s proceeding, depending on whether the court grants the request. Arkansas Supreme Court decisions are available on Thursdays at 10 A.M during the Court term. The court term lasts from the first week of September to the first week of July. However, four of the justices must agree on any decision, and Justices may meet during the summer to consider court actions. The Arkansas Supreme Court sessions and oral arguments are open to the general public. The court is located at:
Arkansas Supreme Court
625 Marshall Street
Little Rock, AR 72202
Arkansas, United States
Alternatively, interested persons may stream the sessions on this website. After the entire Court process, the clerk disseminates the opinions or orders of the Supreme Court to the parties.
Decisions and orders of the Arkansas Supreme Court are final and binding on all other courts in the state. In addition to this, the Supreme Court can review an appeal determined by the court of appeals. When there is an application by a party to the appeal, the Supreme Court decides the case was originally in its jurisdiction, or upon request by the court of appeal.
In Arkansas, any case is subject to reassignment by the Supreme Court. This means that the Arkansas Supreme Court has the authority to transfer the right of handling a case from one Judge to another. However, the Supreme Court can only exercise this right when there are issues of perceived inconsistency, substantial public interest, constitutional interpretation, issues needing clarification, issues of first impression, or issues concerning the interpretation of an act of the General assembly.
The Supreme Court may also transfer cases to the court of appeal and vice versa. Still, the court of appeal can only do the same when the case is not within its jurisdiction under rule 1–2(a), or the case involves significant public interest. The Arkansas Supreme Court plays an administrative role over the practice, organization, and regulations of court rules and proceedings in the state.
The Supreme Court also controls the activities of the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, Arkansas Code Revision Commission, Committee on Civil Procedure, Committee on Criminal Practices, State Board of Law Examination, Board of Certified Court Reporter Examiners, and many more.
The Arkansas Supreme Court is made up of seven justices elected to eight-year terms in nonpartisan elections. The Arkansas Supreme Court Justices election system ensures that the entire court is not replaced in one election. This means that all the judges can not have the same service period. The justices include the Chief Justice, Vice Chief Justice, and five associate justices.
To be qualified to serve as justice in the Arkansas Supreme Court, a candidate must be at least 30 years of age and a U.S citizen that has been living in Arkansas for more than two years. The candidate must have also practiced law for at least eight years before the election and must be of good moral character. Justices of Arkansas Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, serve a single term; hence, they cannot contest the position again.
In situations where a seat is vacant or a justice is impeached, the Governor of Arkansas appoints an interim justice to fill the position. Impeachment of justice in Arkansas is by a majority vote of the Arkansas House of Representatives and ratified by two-thirds of the Arkansas Senate. However, the decision must be approved by the Governor of Arkansas before it is effected.
Arkansas Supreme Court dockets and records are available to interested persons in the state. These records are grouped into the following
- Documents filed with the court or a judge;
- orders created by judges from the bench;
- Court Judgements;
- Scheduling orders entered by judges or case managers.
The Arkansas Supreme, through the Administrative Office Court Connect Website (AOC) provides an online resource where interested persons can search for court information. The Supreme Court may send cover sheets of court information to the administrative officer or have any Supreme Court staff enter the data. Court dockets are available to requesters as soon as the individual provides the necessary information.
Requesters access the information by providing the case ID, docket ID, date, court code, and location Code. For information on a particular case, interested persons may locate records using the full name or business name of a party involved in the case. Alternatively, requesters may search for information on Supreme Court judgments using a name, court judgments, date, and status.
Additionally, interested persons may also visit the display case information and activities page or filed cases page for more information. Note, the AOC website is unavailable for routine maintenance from Fridays 12:30 A.M to 2 A.M and Saturdays at 10 P.M.
Arkansas Supreme Court, through the office of the reporter, makes Supreme court opinions available to the public. This includes the official report of decisions of the Supreme court issued before February 14, 2009. For Supreme Court opinions, visit the Arkansas Judiciary website. Attorneys, researchers, and members of the public can also request records at Arkansas Supreme Court Library.
To access information on the library, interested persons may call (501–682–2147) or send an email to the library management. The Arkansas Supreme Court library also allows in-person requests. However, before such visits, the library must be certain that the information requested can not be provided through a virtual means. To make a walk-in request, book an appointment and visit the library at: