City Courts

1 Authorization

City Courts in existence on July 1, 2001, remain in existence unless abolished by the legislature or the governing body of the city. Currently, there are 89 city courts served by 73 judges, 29 of whom are also district court judges. City court judges may serve more than one court.

Ark. Const. Amend. 80
Op. Att’y Gen. # 2001-255
See also, Act 663 of 2007 (city courts become departments of district court effective January 1, 2012)

2 Jurisdiction

(a) The city court shall have original jurisdiction, exclusive of the circuit court, for the trial of violations of ordinances of the city in which the city court is located and shall have original jurisdiction concurrent with the circuit court for the trial of offenses defined as misdemeanors by state law and committed within the city in which the court is located.

Ark. Code Ann. § 16-88-101

(b) For crimes and offenses committed within the limits of the city, the court's power with respect to process or writs extends throughout the county in which the court is located.

Ark. Code Ann. § 16-18-112

(c) The court may award and issue any process or writs that may be necessary to enforce the administration of justice throughout the city, and for the lawful exercise of its jurisdiction, according to the usages and principles of law.

Ark. Code Ann. § 16-18-112

(d) Any conviction or sentence of the city court may be appealed to circuit court for a trial de novo.

Ark. Code Ann. § 16-18-112

3 Qualifications/Designation of Substitute Judge

(a) There are no qualifications for holding city court except for being the mayor, or any mayor of a city of the first class meeting the limitations of this section, any city of the second class, or any town may designate, at such times as he or she shall choose to do so, any attorney licensed in the State of Arkansas who resides in the county in which the city or town is situated, to sit in the mayor's stead as judge of the city court.

(b) The mayor shall give bond and security in any amount to be determined and approved by the city council.

Ark. Code Ann. § 16-18-112
See also Ark. Code Ann. § 14-44-108; and Ark. Code Ann. § 14-45-106

4 Salary

(a) Any person so designated by the mayor to sit as judge of the city court shall receive such remuneration as is provided by the governing body of the city or town as provided in this section.

(b) The governing body of any city or town having a city court may establish a schedule of fees to be paid by the city or town from the general fund to the judge of the court for the trial of cases in the court. However, the fee schedule or monthly allowance shall not be based upon the conviction of any person tried in the court.

(c) Alternatively, the governing body of the city or town may provide for the payment of a monthly allowance from the general fund of the city or town as compensation to the judge for sitting as judge in that court.

Ark. Code Ann. § 16-18-112

It is a violation of the 14th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and deprivation of due process of law to subject the liberty or property of a defendant in a criminal case to a court, the judge of which has a direct, personal, substantial pecuniary interest in reaching a conclusion against him in the case. Gore, et al v. Emerson & Wilkinson, 262 Ark. 463, 557 S.W. 2d 880 (1997)