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Courts And Community: The Structure Of Arkansas's Courts

There are three levels of courts in Arkansas’s court system: district courts, circuit courts and appellate courts.

District courts handle traffic violations, misdemeanor offenses, violations of state law and local ordinances, and civil matters involving personal property or contracts. The next level, circuit courts, are the trial courts. This includes jury trials with a 12-member jury, or bench trial with one judge presiding.

The highest level is the appellate courts. The Arkansas Constitution gives people the right to appeal cases to an appellate court if they believe they did not get a fair trial in a lower court. There are two appellate courts in the state; the Arkansas Court of Appeals and the Arkansas Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeals has 12 judges who hear cases in rotating panels of three, and the Arkansas Supreme Court has seven justices who hear cases as an entire group.