What are the basic types of Circuit Court cases?
There are five basic types of court cases heard in the Circuit Courts of the 23rd Judicial Circuit:

1.      Civil:  A civil case is a disagreement between two or more people or businesses.  Examples of civil disputes include property disputes, contract disputes, foreclosures, repossessions and personal injury.
2.      Criminal:  A criminal case involves an adult person accused of committing a crime.  Minor criminal offenses are called misdemeanors.  More serious criminal offenses are called felonies.
3.      Juvenile:  A juvenile case involves a person under the age of eighteen.  A special set of laws apply to juveniles.  Examples of juvenile cases include delinquency and truancy, as well as abuse and neglect matters.
4.      Domestic relations:  A domestic relations case involves family and domestic matters and issues.  Examples of domestic relations cases include divorce, child custody, child support, and paternity and protection orders. 
5.      Probate:  A probate case normally involves the estate of a deceased person.  Probate cases will also include guardianships and adoptions. 

What does this mean?

1.      Plaintiff:  A plaintiff is the person or business that starts a lawsuit.  The plaintiff is usually responsible for paying filing fees and other costs associated with starting a lawsuit.
2.      Defendant:  A defendant is the person or business being sued.  
3.      Summons:  A summons is a document issued by the clerk of the court.  It is usually issued at the start of a lawsuit and served upon the person being sued.  The summons informs the person being sued of the right and procedure for offering a defense. 
4.      Complaint:  A legal document filed by a plaintiff that starts a lawsuit. 
5.      Answer:  A legal document filed by a defendant in response to the plaintiff’s complaint.
6.      Subpoena:  A document directing a person to appear and testify.  A Subpoena duces tecum is a document directing a person to appear and testify with certain records.
7.      Discovery:  The process of obtaining information in preparation for a trial.
8.      Witness:  A person who testifies in a courtroom.  A witness may testify only based upon personal knowledge.  What a witness may or may not say is governed by law and rules.
9.      Evidence:  Testimony and documents received by the court at a trial. 
10.  Hearing/Trial:  Time in the courtroom where evidence is received.
11.  Appeal:  A person’s right to disagree with the decision of a Circuit Judge and to have the matter legally reviewed by another court.
12.  Attorney:  A person licensed by the state to practice law and represent others in legal proceedings.
13.  Court Reporter:  An employee of the court who is certified to transcribe court proceedings
14.  Bailiff:  An employee of the court who provides security to court proceedings
15.  Trial Court Administrative Assistant:  An employee of the court who schedules hearings and assists the court with administrative duties. 
16.  Clerk and Assistant Clerks:  The Clerk of the Court is an elected official who keeps all the records of the court.  Assistant clerks work for the elected clerk.  The clerk and assistant clerks are not employees of the Circuit Judge. 
17.  Circuit Judge:  The Circuit Judge is the person elected or appointed to decide all legal matters assigned to them.  The Circuit Judge is an attorney but is prohibited from providing legal advice.
18.  Administrative Plan:  The method by which the Circuit Judges decide the assignment of cases between the courts.
19.  Administrative Judge:  The Circuit Judge elected by the other judges to monitor the compliance of the administrative plan.   
20.  Pretrial:  Many cases require a pretrial conference, which is a meeting of the judge and lawyers to discuss which matters should be presented to the jury, to review evidence and witnesses, to set a timetable, and to discuss the settlement of the case. After the initial complaint is filed, a date and time to appear for the pretrial conference is decided by the Court or an attorney may call the Court and request a pretrial conference. There may be more than one such conference prior to the trial date.

"Pro Se" is Latin for "For Self" or in one's own behalf. You appear "Pro Se" in a legal action when you represent yourself directly in a legal action (in or out of court) and do not have an attorney speaking or writing for you.

Can I speak to the Judge?
Circuit Judges are bound by rules of ethics.  Judges are sworn to be fair, impartial and to treat all persons equally.  As a result, they may not engage in ex parte or one-sided communication.  You can not call and speak with the Judge.  You can not make an appointment with the Judge. 
Can someone in the Judge’s office give me advice?
Most employees of the court are not attorneys and are not authorized to practice law. 
Because it is the duty of the court to be fair and impartial, employees of the court may not provide you with legal advice. 
Can someone in the Clerk’s office give me advice?
It is the duty of the Clerk’s office to keep and maintain court records.  Most employees of the Clerk are not attorneys and are not authorized to practice law.  The Clerk’s office is prohibited from offering legal advice. 

Can I be my own lawyer?
You may represent yourself as an individual.  A corporation must be represented by a licensed attorney.  Representing yourself, does not make you a lawyer or an attorney, unless you have a license to practice law.  You must follow the same rules of law, evidence and procedure as any licensed attorney in representing yourself.  The law can be very technical and precise.  Not knowing what to do or how to do it can result in a dismissal of your case or a decision against you.  The court may not assist you in your self-representation.  If you are not familiar with the rules of law, evidence or procedure, then you should strongly consider hiring an attorney. 
Will the court appoint me an attorney?
In criminal and juvenile cases where the accused could be punished to spend time in jail, prison or detention, the court will appoint an attorney for a defendant or juvenile who is unable to afford one.  The decision to appoint an attorney is made by the court based upon the income and assets of the accused.  The costs of the appointment are paid for by the state.
In cases where the state has removed children from the home of a parent due to allegations of abuse and neglect, the court will appoint an attorney for the parent from whom the children were removed if that parent is unable to afford one.  The decision to appoint an attorney is made by the court based upon the parent’s income and assets.  The costs of the appointment are paid for by the state.
In cases where the state is seeking to involuntarily commit a person to treatment due to mental illness or addiction, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the individual.  The costs of the appointment are paid for by the state.
In matters relating to the best interest of children, the court may appoint an Attorney ad Litem to represent the best interest of the child.  The costs of the appointment are at the discretion of the court. 
In all other matters, a person may hire an attorney, but the court is under no obligation to appoint an attorney. 
Where can I go to pay my fine?
If you have been received a citation or a traffic ticket, you should contact the clerk of the district court for information concerning your ticket and court appearances.  The information concerning what court to contact should be located on the back of the ticket or citation.
If you have received a fine from the Circuit Court and have been placed upon probation, you should contact your probation office for information concerning the payment of your fine.

How do I get my driver’s license back?
If your license has been suspended or revoked, you should contact the Department of Finance and Administration.  Matters relating to drivers licenses are handled administratively by D.F.A. and not by the Circuit Courts. 
How do I know which court I am in?
The judges agree how the cases will be assigned through an Administrative Plan which is submitted and approved by the Arkansas Supreme Court.  The Administrative Plan controls which court will hear which case.  When a case is filed with the Circuit Clerk’s office, the case is assigned to a judge pursuant to the Administrative Plan. 
How do I get a date to come to court?
If you are represented by an attorney, you should contact your counsel about obtaining a date to come to court.  Your attorney will then notify you of court appearances.  If you do not have an attorney or are representing yourself, you may contact the office of the judge and speak to the judge’s Trial Court Administrative Assistant about a court date.  The Trial Court Administrative Assistant sets the hearings for the judge and can assist you with this.  The Trial Court Administrative Assistant cannot give you legal advice or tell you what to do or expect when you come to court.
Where is the court located?
The Circuit Courts of Lonoke County are located in the city of Lonoke.  The Lonoke County Courthouse is located at 301 N. Center Street, Lonoke, Arkansas.  There are two courtrooms in the Courthouse.  A courtroom is located on the 1st floor and another is located on the 3rd floor.  Another courtroom is located at the 2nd Street Court Building, 119 E. 2nd Street, Lonoke, Arkansas.  The 2nd Street Court Building is across the street from the Courthouse.  Your notice to appear in court should direct you to report to a specific courtroom.  A marque will be posted in the Courthouse providing information on a daily basis what cases will be heard in each courtroom.      



























































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