United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas's vacancy warning level is currently set at green. The court currently has no vacancies.
There are five court divisions, each covering the following counties:
The Eastern District of Arkansas has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|Federal Court Case Load Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
The Eastern District of Arkansas has five separate offices. The Clerk's office is open Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. Please consult the chart below for more information:
|Batesville||490 College Street
Batesville, Arkansas 72501
|Helena||617 Walnut Street
Helena, Arkansas 72342
|Jonesboro||615 South Main Street Room 312
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
|(870) 972-4610||M-F, 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.|
|Little Rock||600 West Capitol Avenue
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
|(501) 604-5351||M-F, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.|
|Pine Bluff||100 E 8th Ave., Room 3103
Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601
|(870) 536-1190||M-F, 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.|
The District of Arkansas was organized by Congress on June 15, 1836, with one post to cover the entire state. The district court in Arkansas was not yet assigned to a judicial circuit, and thus had the same jurisdiction as the United States circuit courts, excluding appeals and writs of error, which are the jurisdiction of the United States Supreme Court.
On March 3, 1851, statute 5 Stat. 176, 177 had the federal judiciary reorganized into nine circuits. This act assigned the district of Arkansas over to the Ninth Circuit, as well as repealed the district court of Arkansas's right to exercise the trial jurisdiction of a United States circuit court. Instead, the act established annual sessions of the U.S. circuit court in the district of Arkansas. On June 17, 1844, Statute 5 Stat. 680 extended the jurisdiction of the district of Arkansas over Indian territory previously annexed to the Territory of Arkansas.
On March 3, 1851, Statute 9 Stat. 594 divided the state of Arkansas into two judicial districts, known as the Eastern and the Western districts, with one judgeship serving both. The Indian territory was under the jurisdiction of the Western District, while the Eastern District remained in the Ninth Circuit and the Western District was granted that same jurisdiction as the United States circuit courts.
On July 23rd, 1866, Congress assigned Arkansas to the Sixth Circuit, and then to the Eighth Circuit by July 15, 1862. After this, a judgeship was authorized to the Western District on March 3, 1871, and the judgeship previously assigned to serve both districts was made into a judgeship for the Eastern District only.
There was a district court meeting at Helena in the Eastern District of Arkansas on January 31, 1877, and Statute 19 Stat. 230 granted the same jurisdiction to the Eastern District of Arkansas as all other United States circuit courts. Statute 25 Stat. 655 repealed the prior statute made before this on February 6, 1889, as well as the Western District's circuit court jurisdiction. Instead, the statute established a U.S. circuit court for the Western District of Arkansas and all appropriate cases were transferred to the circuit courts. Over time, four additional judicial posts were added for a total of six current posts.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the Eastern District of Arkansas:
|June 15, 1836||5 Stat. 50, 51||1|
|March 3, 1851||9 Stat. 594||1|
|March 3, 1871||16 Stat. 471||2|
|May 31, 1938||52 Stat. 584||3|
|May 19, 1961||75 Stat. 80||4|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat, 1629||6|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||6|
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Justia.com-Dockets & Filings-Eastern District of Arkansas.
| • State's ban on abortions after 12 weeks is unconstitutional (2014) Judge(s):Susan Carter|
*Edwards et al., v. Beck et al. 4:13CV00224
|Judge Susan Carter presided over a case challenging an Arkansas law that bans abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy. The law was passed when the Arkansas legislature overrode Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto, and was scheduled to go into effect on August 16, 2013. The ACLU, the Center for Reproductive rights, and other groups sued to block the law from taking effect, challenging it as an extreme example of a movement to eliminate access to abortion care across the country. Judge Carter ruled against the State, and issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the advocacy groups.
On March 14, 2014, Judge Carter struck down the Arkansas law, ruling that it was unconstitutional as it "impermissibly infringe[d] a woman’s Fourteenth Amendment right to elect to terminate a pregnancy before viability." The state’s ban was based on a fetal heartbeat rather than viability, and in her decision, Judge Carter noted that "[t]he Supreme Court has … stressed that it is not the proper function of the legislature or the courts to place viability at a specific point in the gestation period." On April 11, 2014, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that the state would appeal the ruling to the Eighth Circuit.
| • Lee County School District Racial Discrimination Case (2012) Judge(s):Leon Holmes|
*Sharon Sanders v. Lee County School Dist. No. 1, et al 2:08-cv-00219-JLH
|Arkansas: On February 29, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit partially overturned a ruling of the Eastern District of Arkansas, finding the Lee County School District to be guilty of federal discrimination law. Sharon Sanders, a former school finance coordinator, took the district to court following her demotion and subsequent recommendation for dismissal on the basis of race discrimination. According to court records, Sanders and another administrator were demoted following an election where the school board became comprised of a majority of African American members. In the original suit, Sanders was awarded compensatory damages, lost wages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees by a jury. Upon appeal, a judge of the Eastern District of Arkansas revoked the lost wages and severely cut her award for attorney's fees. The ruling by the Eighth Circuit ordered new proceedings to determine fees for Sanders's attorney and punitive damages, but fundamentally agreed that she had been discriminated against on the basis of race.|
| • Jack Harold Jones case (2010) Judge(s):Leon Holmes|
*Jones v. Hobbs 5:10CV00065 JLH
|On March 12, 2010, Judge Holmes issued a stay of execution involving convicted murderer Jack Harold Jones, Jr. Jones was scheduled to be executed on March 16, 2010, but had his execution stayed after attorneys challenged the legality of execution under the Arkansas Methods of Execution Act. The judge found that the requirement of lethal injection for executing inmates by the State of Arkansas could be inhumane and unconstitutional under the new law.|
| • School district desegregation case (2009) Judge(s):D.P. Marshall|
|In December 2012, Judge Marshall ruled that two Arkansas school districts could not be released from federal supervision for complying fully with desegregation. The Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock school districts were under federal supervision since the 1960s and involved in a case over progress since 1988. Though Judge Marshall did not rule in favor of the school districts, he did suggest short hearings on specific compliance areas in the future, instead of holding one hearing which would last weeks. In addition, Marshall approved a settlement between the district and attorneys who originally brought the suit.|
| • Death row removal case (2009) Judge(s):Leon Holmes|
*Simpson v. Norris 5:04CV00429 JLH
|On September 17, 2009, Judge Holmes commuted the death sentence of Sedrice Maurice Simpson after he spent 11 years on death row. Judge Holmes agreed with Simpson's attorneys that due to his low IQ of 59, he could not be executed under state law which prohibited execution of individuals with an IQ below 65. Under the judge's ruling, Simpson would serve two consecutive life sentences for murdering two grocery clerks in Dallas County.|
Five separate courthouses serve the Eastern District of Arkansas.
For new stories and other related material see Arkansas judicial news.
- Official website of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Arkansas
- Judges of the Eastern District of Arkansas
- Official Website of the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas
- Judges of the Eastern District of Arkansas Judges are listed on the right frame on the front page.
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- Eastern District of Arkansas, "Court Clerk Information," accessed April 16, 2014
- History of the Eastern District of Arkansas on the Federal Judicial Center website
- Courthouse News Service, "Arkansas can't ban abortions after 12 weeks," May 20, 2013
- Los Angeles Times, "Federal judge rules Arkansas abortion law unconstitutional," March 14, 2014
- MSN, "US judge strikes Arkansas’ 12-week abortion ban," March 15, 2014
- Chicago Tribune, "Federal judge strikes down Arkansas early abortion ban," March 14, 2014
- Reuters, "Arkansas to appeal ruling on abortion restriction law," April 11, 2014
- Arkansas News, "Court: Race behind white school employees's forced resignation," February 28, 2012
- 40/29 TV, "Federal Judge Stays Arkansas Inmate's Execution," March 12, 2010
- Arkansas News, "Judge keeps Pulaski County district under desegregation order," December 10, 2012
- KFSM-TV.com, "Federal judge schedules hearing in Pulaski County school desegregation lawsuit," July 30, 2009
- Pine Bluff Commercial, "Federal judge postpones school unitary hearings," December 29, 2009
- Arkansas News, "Federal judge orders inmate off death row," September 17, 2009
|2.1 Active Judges|
|2.1.1 Article III judges|
|2.1.2 Pending appointments|
|2.1.3 Senior judges|
|2.2 Past judges|
|2.2.1 Former Chief judges|
|2.2.2 Former judges|
Article III judges
|Judge Leon Holmes||1951||Hazen, AR||W. Bush||7/7/2004 - Present||2005 - 7/22/2012||Stephen Reasoner||Arkansas State U., B.A., 1973||U. of Arkansas, J.D., 1982|
|Chief Judge Brian Miller||1967||Pine Bluff, AR||W. Bush||4/17/2008 - Present||7/23/2012 - Present||George Howard||U. of Central Arkansas, B.S., 1992||Vanderbilt Law School, J.D., 1995|
|Judge D.P. Marshall||1963||Memphis, TN||Obama||5/6/2010 - Present||William Wilson||Arkansas State U., B.A., 1985||Harvard Law School, J.D., 1989|
|Judge James Moody (Arkansas)||Obama||2/25/2014 - Present||Susan Carter||U. of Arkansas, B.S.B.A., 1986||U. of Arkansas Law, J.D., 1989|
|Judge Kristine Gerhard Baker||1971||Colorado Springs, CO||Obama||5/7/2012 - Present||James M. Moody||St. Louis U., B.A., 1993||U. of Arkansas Law, J.D., 1996|
There are no current pending appointments for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
|Senior Judge Garnett Eisele||Nixon||8/6/1970 - 8/1/1991||1975 - 1991||8/1/1991 - Present||Washington U. in St. Louis, A.B., 1947||Harvard Law School, LL.B., 1950|
|Senior Judge Susan Carter||H.W. Bush||1/24/1990 - 8/22/2013||1998 - 2005||8/22/2013 - Present||Randolph-Macon Woman`s College, B.A., 1970||U. of Arkansas at Fayetteville School of Law, J.D., 1975|
|Senior Judge William Wilson||Clinton||10/1/1993 - 10/1/2008||10/1/2008 - Present||Hendrix College, B.A., 1962||Vanderbilt U. Law School, J.D., 1965|
|Magistrate Judge H. David Young|
|Magistrate Judge Jerry Cavaneau|
|Chief Magistrate Judge J. Thomas Ray|
|Magistrate Judge Beth Deere||01/04/2007 - Present||Henderson State U., B.A., 1974||U. of Arkansas Law, J.D., 1986|
|Magistrate Judge Jerome Kearney||04/16/2010 - Present|
|Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe||07/2009 - Present||West Point, B.S., 1988||U. of Arkansas Law, J.D., 1996|
Former Chief judges
|Former Chief Judges||Term|
|Stephen Reasoner||1991 - 1998|
|Jesse Henley||1959 - 1975|
|Thomas Trimble||1948 - 1957|
|Susan Carter||1998 - 2005|
|Garnett Eisele||1975 - 1991|
In order to qualify for the office of Chief Judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as Chief Judge. A vacancy in the office of Chief Judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The Chief Judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a Chief Judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
|Magistrate judges||H. David Young • Jerry Cavaneau • J. Thomas Ray • Beth Deere • Jerome Kearney • Joe J. Volpe •|
|Former Article III judges||
James M. Moody • Henry Woods • William Overton • Richard Arnold • Terry Shell • Daniel Ringo • Henry Clay Caldwell • John Williams • Jacob Trieber • John Ellis Martineau • Thomas Trimble • Harry Lemley • Oren Harris • Jesse Henley • George Howard • Elsijane Roy • Stephen Reasoner • Gordon Young •
|Former Chief judges|
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