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Arkansas Supreme Court Suspends Summonses of Jurors

By a per curiam order delivered today, April 3, 2020, the Arkansas Supreme Court has suspended summonses for jurors until June 30, 2020. All but a few categories of in-person court proceedings are suspended until May 1, 2020.

In Montgomery and Polk Counties we are using Skype to conduct criminal first appearances and arraignments, but there will be no jury trials until July 1, 2020 at the earliest. No criminal pretrials will be held until May 1, 2020 at the earliest. If you have jury duty this term, you may not have to serve.

Cite as 2020 Ark. 132

SUPREME COURT OF ARKANSAS

IN RE RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Delivered: April 3, 2020

PER CURIAM

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Arkansas  delivered per curiam orders on March 17, 2020, and March 20, 2020, implementing emergency precautions to help protect the public from unnecessary risks. See In re Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020 Ark. 116 (per curiam); In re Response to the COVID-19

Pandemic, 2020 Ark. 125 (per curiam). Today the Supreme Court of Arkansas announces additional measures to combat the spread of the disease to the public, including the employees of the Arkansas judiciary.

The courts of the State of Arkansas shall remain open. The previous suspension of all

in-person proceedings in all appellate, circuit, and district courts shall be extended through Friday, May 1, 2020, and may be extended by this court as circumstances warrant.

This Order allows in-person hearings for the excepted proceedings listed in the March 17 per curiam, In re Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020 Ark. 116. While hearings in individual cases of these types may be set by judges, and such hearings may be held in person, judges are encouraged to utilize all available technologies––including teleconferencing and video conferencing––to further limit in-person courtroom appearances. The administrative judge of each judicial circuit is authorized to determine the manner in which the listed in-person exceptions are to be conducted. Such proceedings shall be limited to thc attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers, a press-pool representative, and other individuals necessary to the proceedings as determined by the presiding judge.

AIl proceedings that do not require in-person appearances of parties or counsel are not suspended and may continue or be suspended at the discretion ofthe presiding judge as circumstances allow. For the duration of this Order,judges may exercise their discretion to conduct proceedings that do not require in-person appearances or in-person proceedings  suspended as a result of this Order, by teleconGrencing, video conferencing, or other available technology. Any criminal or civil court rules that would impede a court clerk’s or a judge’s ability to utilize such technologies are hcreby suspended for the duration of this Order.

Any summonses for persons to participate in jury panels are hereby suspended through Tuesday, Jrne 30,2020.

For criminal cases, in light of the public-health emergency, any delay for speedy-trial purposes during this emergency shall be deemed to be extraordinary circumstances that shall presumptively constitute good cause as an excluded period for the period of delay under Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 28.3(h).

This Ordcr is to be interpreted broadly for protection of the public from the risks associated with COVID-I9. This Order applies statewide to all courts and court clerks’ offices except administrative courts of the executive branch, federal courts, and federal court clerks’ offices in Arkansas.

It is so OI\I)EIIED.

FOI{THE COUI{T:

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