United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
- 1 Vacancy warning level
- 2 Active judges
- 3 Jurisdiction
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable cases
- 6 History
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas is one of ninety-four United States district courts. It is divided into six divisions with courthouses in Little Rock, Batesville, Helena, Jonesboro and Pine Buff, Arkansas. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals based in St. Louis at the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse and Building.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
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||University of Arkansas, J.D., 1982|
|Chief Judge Brian Miller (Arkansas)||1967||Pine Bluff, AR||W. Bush||4/17/2008 - Present||7/23/2012 - Present||George Howard||University 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)||2/25/2014-Present||Susan Carter||University of Arkansas, 1986||University of Arkansas Law, 1989|
|Judge Kristine Gerhard Baker||1971||Colorado Springs, CO||5/7/2012-Present||James M. Moody||St. Louis University, 1993||University of Arkansas Law, 1996|
Active Article III judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of active judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|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, 1970||University of Arkansas at Fayetteville School of Law, 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|
Senior judges by appointing political party
This graph displays the percent of senior judges by the party of the appointing president and does not reflect how a judge may rule on specific cases or their own political preferences.
|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||University 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||University of Arkansas Law, J.D., 1996|
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.
There are five court divisions, each covering the following counties:
|Federal Court Caseload 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.
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)
|Click for summary→|
|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)
|Click for summary→|
|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)
|Click for summary→|
|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)|
|Click for summary→|
|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)
|Click for summary→|
|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.|
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 divided the federal judiciary into nine circuits. This act assigned the district of Arkansas over to the Ninth Circuit,and repealed the district court of Arkansas's right to exercise the trial jurisdiction of a United States circuit court. The act established annual sessions of the U.S. circuit court in the district of Arkansas. Statute 5 Stat. 680 on June 17, 1844, extended the jurisdiction of the district of Arkansas over Indian territory previously annexed to the Territory of Arkansas.
Statute 9 Stat. 594 on March 3, 1851, divided the State of Arkansas into two judicial districts, known as the Eastern and the Western, with one judgeship serving both. The Indian territory was under the jurisdiction of the Western District of Arkansas, while the Eastern District remained in the Ninth Circuit and the Western District of Arkansas was granted that same jurisdiction as the United States circuit courts.
On July 23, 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.
In 1889, the U.S. circuit court for the Western District of Arkansas was established by statute.
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|
Former chief judges
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.
For more information about the judges of the Eastern District of Arkansas, see former federal judges of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Five separate courthouses serve the Eastern District of Arkansas.
- 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
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- 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 (dead link)
- 40/29 TV, "Federal Judge Stays Arkansas Inmate's Execution," March 12, 2010 (dead link)
- 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 (dead link)
- Pine Bluff Commercial, "Federal judge postpones school unitary hearings," December 29, 2009 (dead link)
- Arkansas News, "Federal judge orders inmate off death row," September 17, 2009 (dead link)
- History of the Eastern District of Arkansas on the Federal Judicial Center website
- United States Courts, "Frequently Asked Questions"
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
|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 (Arkansas) • Terry Shell • Daniel Ringo • Henry Clay Caldwell • John Williams (Arkansas) • Jacob Trieber • John Ellis Martineau • Thomas Trimble • Harry Lemley • Oren Harris • Jesse Henley • George Howard • Elsijane Roy • Stephen Reasoner • Gordon Young •
|Former Chief judges|