Arkansas Judicial System

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.

Arkansas' attorney general is asking the state Supreme Court to reassign cases involving her office from a judge who has been prohibited from handling execution cases, accusing him of regularly being biased against her staff.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday requested that the court reassign the civil cases from Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. He was prohibited from handling execution cases in 2017 after he participated in an anti-death penalty demonstration the same day he blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug.

Karen Tricot Steward / Arkansas Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg used her appearance in Arkansas Tuesday to recount her life in law, and the reasoning behind her decisions and dissents of the past 26 years.

Ginsburg spoke to a sold out crowd at North Little Rock's Verizon Arena as part of the Clinton School of Public Service's Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series. The school's namesake, former President Bill Clinton introduced the justice he appointed to the nation's highest court in 1993.

Judge Mark Derrick
Bad Government In Arkansas Blog

A civil rights organization has filed a lawsuit alleging that an Arkansas district court judge is running an illegal “debtors’ prison” in White County. The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law contends that Judge Mark Derrick not only imposes excessive fines without evaluating the ability of defendants to pay, but also jails defendants for nonpayment 30 days at a time.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs, all residents of White County, who say they have been jailed or otherwise threatened with legal punishment for being unable to pay court-ordered fines.

Wendell Griffen
Brian Chilson / Arkansas Times

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a lawsuit filed by an Arkansas judge against members of the state Supreme Court should be dismissed.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen originally sued the sitting justices of the Arkansas Supreme Court after he was barred from hearing cases regarding the death penalty.


An anonymous scientific survey conducted on the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville campus to measure the incidence of nonconsensual sexual contact revealed that 31 percent of women sampled reported being victims. Such contact includes campus rapes and sexual assaults as well as unwanted sexual touching.

The survey was conducted at the urging of an Arkansas legislator raising awareness about widespread sexual violence on college campuses, and that Arkansas is among more than a dozen states that do not teach comprehensive sex education in public schools — including what constitutes sexual consent.

Further illuminating the widely-reported UA survey, a female student who claims she was sexually assaulted carried around a bed sheet for weeks, raising alarm.

Primary elections are set for May 22, the same day as the deciding nonpartisan judicial election for Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice. Three candidates, including the incumbent, are vying for the seat.

Justice Courtney Goodson was elected in 2010, and is seeking another eight-year term on the bench. Arkansas Department of Human Services Chief Legal Counsel David Sterling and state Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson are running to unseat Goodson. 

Facebook/Arkansas Secretary of State/Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

There’s one seat up for grabs on the Arkansas’s highest court, and it belongs to Justice Courtney Goodson.

She’s seeking another eight-year term, and has two challengers in the nonpartisan judicial election: state Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson, and Department of Human Services Chief Counsel David Sterling.

And while all three say they want to focus on the issues, a bigger story has loomed large over the race. Both Goodson and Hixson have been the subject of T-V and online ads from dark money groups; ones that don’t have to disclose their donors.

The Arkansas Supreme Court says it'll hear oral arguments over a judge's decision to prevent the state from licensing companies to grow medical marijuana.

Justices on Monday agreed to hear arguments June 7 in the state's appeal of Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen's decision striking down the licensing process for medical marijuana cultivation facilities. Griffen ruled the process violated the voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana for certain medical conditions.

In 2005, Jaime Mann was cited for several traffic violations in Craighead County — not having insurance, not wearing a seatbelt, and hazardous driving. She was charged about $500. She paid some of it, but then she started racking up fees and fines for the money and community service hours she owed.  

 

"And then it started spiraling out of control, and I was so mad, I remember, because I thought, ‘I paid this ticket,'" she said.

Example of someone holding a chicken by its feet in a processing plant.
Image via U.S. Department of Defense

The ACLU of Arkansas is investigating claims that an organization in Oklahoma known as Christian Alcoholics and Addicts In Recover (CAAIR) "is operating forced labor camps disguised as rehabilitation centers", according to a press release.

Pulaski County Judge Wendell Griffen
PBS

The Arkansas Parole Board is halting action under the state's new law that eliminates mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles after a judge said it's unconstitutional.

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