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How do Arkansas Courts work?

The Supreme Court acts as the highest legal power across the state of Arkansas. This gives it the ability to review any decision made by the Court of Appeals, as well as allowing the Supreme Court to weigh in on any legal questions, conflicts, or precedents. In turn, the Court of Appeals carries out a similar function over the courts below it, but only when one party decides to contest a decision made. These lower courts come in the form of the 75 trial and superior courts across Arkansas’ 75 counties. Other tiers of court include Circuit Courts, Clerk of the Courts, and District Courts.

Civil Cases and Small Claims

There are a number of key differences between the types of cases taken on by civil and small claims courts, as well as the amount of money each court deals with. For example, the civil court only deals with cases in which the claimant is seeking $250,000 or more in their claim. There are close to 200,000 of these claims every year across the state. The civil court can also deal with cases that do not involve money, including disputes over property, restraining orders, and name changes. On the other hand, the small claims court deals with just that, small claims, namely cases in which the petitioner is seeking under $5,000. There are close to 25,000 of these claims each and every year in the state of Arkansas. These cases can include disputes over warranties, repairs, deposits, loans, and much more, as long as the value amounts to $5,000 or under. The small claims court can also order a defendant into an action, such as paying back a fee.

Appeals and court limits

There are also a number of differences between the appeals processes and the court limits surrounding civil and small claims courts. For instance, small claims have a filing fee of between $30 and $100, after which point each party is given 30-70 days to complete these case. On the other hand, civil courts have filing fees of between $180 and $320, and parties are given up to 120 days to complete their respective cases. Small claims court does not allow pre-trial discovery, whereas civil courts do. Civil courts also allow a person to hire a lawyer to represent them and file papers on their behalf, whereas neither of these things are allowed in small claims court. Either party can appeal a decision made by a civil court, but only the defendant can appeal a small claims court decision. In small claims court, a person may hire an interpreter if they need one, and they do not have to be a US citizen to file or defend.

Why are court records public?

The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act was passed in 1967, with the most recent changes coming in 2000. The aim of this Act is to ensure that all residents of the state have the fundamental right to access and view all public records. Public records held by the local and state government can all be accessed and copied by members of the public, unless it is prohibited by law. This promotes a sense of transparency between the government and the public, while also maintaining government accountability.

To access records:


Justice Building
625 Marshall Street
Suite 1500
Little Rock, AR 72201-1020
Phone: (501) 682-2147


Arkansas Court Structure
Arkansas State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (501) 200-3254

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Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.


The White County Courthouse was first built in 1871 and enlarged in 1912.

  • There are 4 types of courts in Arkansas; The Supreme Court, The Court of Appeals, The Circuit Courts, and The District Courts.
  • The Arkansas Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, and has 7 serving justices who serve 8 year terms.
  • Daniel Ringo, who served from 1836 to 1844, was the state's first  Supreme Court Justice.
  • The Arkansas Court of Appeals is the second highest court in the state, and has 12 serving judges that serve 8 year terms. 
  • There state district court judges that preside over the state’s 28 districts serve 6 year terms.