The Arkansas Judicial Branch of Government

Arkansas citizens turn to the court system for solutions, asking the courts to settle disputes and asking for justice when they feel they have been wronged. The Arkansas court system consists of many branches specifically designed to deal with different kinds of problems. Probate courts handle wills, trusts, and guardianships. District courts attend to minor traffic violations like speeding and less serious crimes. Circuit courts hear the most serious category of criminal offenses and also deal with family issues such as divorce, custody, and business disputes.

Trial courts are where lawyers present their cases to judges or juries, witnesses testify, and evidence is examined. A verdict is reached based on all of the facts.

Most trial court decisions are final, but in a small number of cases, the trial court decision is not the end.

If either side believes errors were made by the trial court, the case may be appealed. When a case is appealed, it goes to an appellate court – usually the Arkansas Court of Appeals. A new trial doesn’t automatically happen when a case is appealed. Instead, the judges of the Court of Appeals review the trial court’s decision to see if the law was followed and if the trial was fair.

The appellate judges may reverse the trial court decision and send the case back to the trial court for a new trial. Or, they may affirm or agree with the decision of the trial court.

If a case is not overturned in the Court of Appeals, there is one more way to appeal the decision – the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision is the final word on the law in the State of Arkansas.