Arkansas

State/Local Funding

  • The Arkansas Judiciary has a mix of state and local funding. 
  • The state pays for the appellate courts, the administrative office of the courts, technology and for the salaries of the trial court judges and trial court support staff.  Trial court clerical staff, operating expenses, courthouses and equipment are funded locally.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Total state and federal grant appropriations for the Arkansas judicial system increased from $74.5 million in FY12 to $76 million in FY13.  
  • The state general fund appropriation increased from $66.7 million to $68.1 million.  The percent of state general funds allocated to the judiciary remained at less than 1%.
  • Since FY09, to enhance revenue, fees have increased 10%.
  • Over the past four years, technology funding has increased 46%.
  • The budget situation in the next three years is likely to stay the same.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Judicial Branch submits its budget directly to the Legislative Branch. 
  • The Judiciary does not have total authority to move funds between Judiciary programs.  Appropriations are place within seven categories; the court has complete authority within those categories and some ability to transfer between categories.
  • The budget enables the court to provide and enhance needed technology.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Time

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses: 

  1. Over the past four years, the number of judges has increased 28% and the number of central office staff has increased 10%.  Locally funded staff positions in the trial courts have not increased.
  2. This coming year, the number of judges and court staff will remain the same. 

Compensation:  Over the past four years, the courts have frozen the salaries of judicial officers and court staff and furloughed court staff. 

Efficiency Measures:  The Arkansas courts have implemented e-filing, an electronic document management system and an enhanced case management system.  They enable law enforcement to file e-citations.  Persons can make e-payment of fees. 

Restructuring:  Over the past four years, Arkansas has created a single tier trial court, consolidated the number of districts and reallocated judges to districts based upon weighted caseload. 

Business Processes:  The courts have implemented an enhanced caseflow management program and have implemented in-court updating of docket entries and sentencing orders. 

Centralization:  The courts have centralized the qualification and summoning of jurors.

The Arkansas courts are in a worse position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  Operating budgets have been flat for four years.  Staff positions in the trial courts have not increased over the past four years.

Reports and Articles

Gavel to Gavel

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