Arkansas Judiciary 101: Circuit Courts
The Arkansas judicial system includes five courts: Arkansas Supreme Court, Arkansas Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, State District Courts, and Local (formerly City) Courts.
The lowest courts are city courts and district courts, categorized as either state district court or local district court.
Next are the Circuit Courts, which are trial courts of general jurisdiction — after Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 80 eliminated separate courts of law and courts of equity in our state in 2001.
These courts deal with criminal, civil, probate, domestic relations, and juvenile matters including (for example) issues such as estates, guardianships, protection orders, child support, divorces, adoptions, civil commitments, juvenile neglect, juvenile delinquency, and “families in need of services (FINS).”
Circuit Courts in Arkansas are separated into 23 geographical areas called “districts.” Some Circuit Court Districts cover only one county while some include multiple counties (not to be confused with the state District Court system).
Five Circuit Court Districts serve Faulkner County. As is the case across Arkansas, when cases are filed the local “administrative judge” (in our case, one of the five Circuit Court judges serving Faulkner County) works to distribute those cases throughout those Districts following a pre-arranged agreement to equalize the caseload.
Faulkner County Circuit Courts run Teen Court, Drug Court and Veterans Court for criminal defendants who qualify. Defendants must petition the Court to participate in these special programs, which include counseling and other specific efforts aimed at rehabilitating the individual, thus saving taxpayers the higher expense of incarceration.
After voters passed Amendment 80 to the Arkansas Constitution in 2000, judicial candidates for circuit judge will now run in nonpartisan elections and are required to have been licensed attorneys in the state for six years preceding the date of assuming office. Circuit judges serve a six-year term.
(Some info above from courts.arkansas.gov)