About the Arkansas Supreme Court

The Arkansas Supreme Court is the highest court in Arkansas. It consists of the Chief Justice and six associate justices. The justices are elected by the citizens of Arkansas in nonpartisan statewide elections for eight-year terms that are staggered so that not all the justices are up for election at the same time.

The Arkansas Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction, meaning it typically hears cases that are appealed from trial courts, known in Arkansas as the circuit courts.  This jurisdiction includes appeals involving the interpretation or construction of the Arkansas 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, as well as the actions of the circuit courts; appeals relating to election matters; appeals involving attorney or judicial discipline; and other matters required by law to be heard by the Court. The Supreme Court also has other constitutional responsibilities, including the power to make rules regulating the practice of law, the efficient operation of the state courts, and the professional conduct of attorneys at law.

For the Supreme Court to reach a decision in a case, it takes a majority of four justices to agree on the outcome.  Justices who disagree with the decision may explain their disagreement in a dissenting opinion, while justices who agree with the outcome may explain their reasoning in a concurring opinion.  The Supreme Court’s ruling on a matter of Arkansas law is the decisive interpretation and is controlling in all the state’s courts.

About the Chief Justice

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the highest judicial officer in the state and acts as the chief administrative officer of the state courts. The Chief Justice is directly responsible for the efficient operation of the judicial branch and ensures the proper conduct of the business of the state courts system. As head of the Arkansas Judiciary, the Chief Justice serves as the spokesperson for the judicial branch of Arkansas government.

Like the other justices, the Chief Justice has a role in deciding cases of the Supreme Court.  In addition, the Chief Justice also has an important administrative role.  The Chief Justice leads the business of the Supreme Court, presiding over oral arguments before the Court and the Court’s private conferences in which decisions are discussed and made. The Chief Justice nominates the Director of the Administrative Office of the Court and Chief of the Court of Appeals, and also has the authority to designate chairpersons for various judicial committees. The Chief Justice has the authority to assign and modify assignments of circuit and district court judges to hold, upon a temporary basis, regular or special sessions in civil or criminal cases outside the judge’s original jurisdiction.

Information about the Supreme Court can be found at https://courts.arkansas.gov/courts/supreme-court

 

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