Courts and Community

Various Times, Daily

Courts & Community provides information on the workings of the judicial branch of government in Arkansas – its functions, programs and services, and history. The series is a production of the Arkansas Supreme Court’s public education program, which partners with educators, community groups, and others to foster public understanding of the court system’s role in government. It is hosted by the Supreme Court’s Public Education Coordinator, Karen Tricot Steward.

The public education program provides group tours of the Justice Building in Little Rock. It also invites the public to share ideas for collaborating on civics education projects and events.

The first African-American municipal judge in America was from Arkansas. Mifflin Wistar Gibbs was elected a city judge in Little Rock in 1873. He was also a businessman, attorney, and active in the civil rights movement. Gibbs Elementary in Little Rock is named after him.

The word “Justice” is etched on the front of the Arkansas Supreme Court building with a V as the second letter instead of a U. This is because part of the basis for our system of law derives from Roman law and the Latin alphabet at one point didn’t have a U.

Up until the 17th Century, the Romans didn’t have a need for using separate letters for V, U or W. They used them interchangeably and they were pronounced in the same way. So, the use of V for U is a tribute to the neoclassical style.

The Arkansas Supreme Court began live-streaming its oral arguments in 2010 with the goal of giving citizens better access to the courts and the judicial process. When the Supreme Court is hearing a case, anyone with an internet connection can watch the proceedings live.

The public can also come to the Justice Building and watch any oral argument in-person in the Supreme Court courtroom.

As our nation becomes more and more diverse, the need for court interpreters continues to grow. Interpreting for a witness, defendant, victim, or lawyer during a court proceeding can ensure all people receive fair and equal access to justice.

Professional court interpreters are individuals who possess an educated, native-like mastery of both English and another language. In Arkansas, Spanish and Marshallese are the two most common languages requested for interpretation.