Beginning March 17, 2020, the Arkansas Supreme Court has issued per curiam opinions implementing emergency precautions, applicable to all courts throughout the state, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent of which was issued May 8, 2020. That opinion indicates that “all divisions shall resume conducting hearings with certain measures to combat the spread of the disease to the public…” The opinion goes on to say that the hearings shall be conducted in one of three ways: 1) video conference, 2) audio conference; or 3) in-person proceedings. The preference is video conferencing and the method is left to the discretion of the presiding judge.
Prior to the most recent per curiam, Third Division Environmental Court has conducted its docket through video and audio conferencing. This has been done to protect the public and its staff from the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. Both methods have served as effective ways to process cases that are on the docket for plea, review and report.
By order of Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., all city buildings are currently closed to the public to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As such, Third Division will continue to use video and audio conferencing for all pleas, reviews and reports until July 1, 2020.
Our staff, as they have been prior to the May 8th per curiam, will contact all defendants that are on dockets between now and July 1, 2020 to ensure they have instructions for attending the hearing virtually (by video or phone). All matters that are currently set for trials will be heard as status reports on those dates. If you have resolved your case by agreement with the city attorney, we will announce the agreement on the record at that time. If there is a need to reset a trial setting, please contact Amy Sinks at 501-371-4899. If you are on the docket and do not get an email invitation for your court appearance the day before the setting, please contact Kevin Wiley at 501-918-5306.