Courts and Organizations

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Arkansas Court of Appeals

The Arkansas Court of Appeals (ACA) serves the state as its intermediate appellate court. For a large number of cases, however, it functions as the final court of review. Parties to lawsuits in Arkansas do not have a right to appeal beyond the Court of Appeals, and the Arkansas Supreme Court generally hears only appeals raising unique questions of law. Thus, for most cases in which the law is settled, the Court of Appeals serves as the parties’ only opportunity for review of lower court decisions. The ACA is composed of twelve judges and primarily hears appeals from Arkansas Circuit Courts and the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission. Created by constitutional amendment in 1978, the Court of Appeals was established to …

Arkansas Legislative Audit

Arkansas Legislative Audit (ALA) examines the books and records of state agencies and political subdivisions to report on their financial condition and compliance with law. Established in 1953 by the Arkansas General Assembly, ALA is an agency located within the legislative branch of Arkansas state government, reporting to the forty-four-member Legislative Joint Auditing Committee (LJAC), a legislative committee composed of both senators and state representatives. Originally, ALA was created to audit state agencies and institutions. In 1969, overriding Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s veto, the legislature enacted a law transferring authority to audit counties, municipalities, and school districts from the executive branch to ALA. ALA conducts over 1,000 engagements annually, including audits, special reports, and investigative reports. These engagements examine the state’s …

Drug Courts

aka: Adult Drug Courts
Drug courts are a specialty court in the Arkansas judicial system designed to channel those accused of drug infractions into rehabilitation rather than prison. The first drug court in the United States was established in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and the first in Arkansas began in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1994, created by Pulaski County circuit judge Mary Ann McGowan. By 2016, fifty-eight of Arkansas’s seventy-five counties had drug courts. Adult drug courts deal with individuals eighteen years of age and above who have been arrested and charged for some type of infraction involving drugs. A drug court is an alternative to a standard term of probation or a trial, as a trial could result in a prison …

Judiciary, State

The judiciary of Arkansas comprises men and women in government who exercise or have exercised various forms of judicial power of the state and territory of Arkansas. The purpose of the judiciary is to decide cases and controversies between parties that come before it. Judicial power has best been defined by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in the case of Prentiss v. Atlantic Coast Line as that power which “declares and enforces liabilities as they stand on present or past facts and under existing laws.” Judicial power is distinguished from legislative power in that the latter looks forward and tries to remedy problems growing out of changing societal conditions. The Arkansas Supreme Court has adopted the Prentiss definition of “judicial …

Supreme Court of Arkansas

aka: Arkansas Supreme Court
The jurisdiction and power of the Arkansas Supreme Court is controlled by Article VII, Section 4 of the Arkansas constitution as amended in 2000 by Amendment 80. Under this section, the Arkansas Supreme Court generally has only appellate jurisdiction, meaning it typically hears cases that are appealed from trial courts. The Arkansas Supreme Court also has general superintending control over all inferior courts of law and equity. The Arkansas Supreme Court’s jurisdiction includes all appeals involving the interpretation or construction of the state constitution; criminal appeals in which the death penalty or life imprisonment has been imposed; petitions relating to the actions of state, county, or municipal officials or circuit courts; appeals pertaining to election matters; appeals involving attorney or …

United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas

The United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas is the federal trial court of record for thirty-four counties in western, south-central, and north-central Arkansas. With headquarters in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and branches in Fayetteville (Washington County), Harrison (Boone County), Texarkana (Miller County), Hot Springs (Garland County), and El Dorado (Union County), the three judges and two magistrates of the Western District under Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution exercise judicial power over “all cases in law and equity, arising under [the] constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made or which shall be made.” Generally, the Western District exercises power over two broadly defined types of civil cases: those that involve a …

University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law is one of two Arkansas law schools, both of which are state supported and part of the University of Arkansas System. The first formal program of legal education in Arkansas was established in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1868 and was known as the Little Rock Law Class. Arkansas Industrial University, now the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), assumed sponsorship of this law class in 1892, establishing the Law Department in Little Rock under the deanship of Judge Frank Goar. The Law Department existed until 1915, when, as the result of disagreement between the law school and the board of trustees over the law …