LITTLE ROCK, Ark.: Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp issued an order late Tuesday suspending jury trials and non-essential hearings until April 3.
The order could be continued past that date upon further order of the court. Courthouses will remain open but anyone with symptoms of the coronavirus or who has been exposed is prohibited from entering. A notice on courthouse doors will instruct those who cannot come inside on how to contact court administrators.
“In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court ofArkansas is implementing emergency precautions to help protect the public from unnecessary risks. On March 11,2020, Governor Hutchinson declared a public health emergency for our state. On March 13, 2020, a national emergency was declared following the classification of COVID-19 as a pandemic. On March 15, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against gatherings in groups of 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks.The President’s March 16, 2020, guidelines call for the public to avoid social garherings in groups of more than 10 people for the next 15 days. In response, the Supreme court of Arkansas announces the implementation of the following precautionary measures ro combat the spread of the disease to the public and the employees ofthe Arkansas judiciary,” the order states.
Civil hearings are likely to be postponed. Hearings for criminal defendants on bond may be postponed or held through technological means which don’t require physical proximity, such as phone or video.
Initial court appearances in criminal cases will continue as will probable cause hearings, juvenile detention hearings, protective order hearings and emergency custody or child removal hearings.
Anyone with a question about a civil or criminal case should contact their attorney of record or the court assigned to the case.