Saline County, Arkansas
Q: What is the difference between Circuit Court and District Court?
A: People are often confused about the difference between Circuit Court and District Court. If you have been arrested for an offense, you will be charged in District Court if the charge is a misdemeanor. Common misdemeanors include traffic violations, trespassing or some offense which usually requires a fine or a brief stay in the county jail.
If you are arrested for a felony crime, you will be charged in Circuit Court. Felonies are much more serious offenses than misdemeanors. Felonies include murder, rape, armed robbery and major drug possession.
Questions regarding felony crimes or cases that have been appealed from District Court should be directed to the Circuit Clerk's Office at (501) 303-5615.
Anyone arrested for a felony crime will be arraigned in District Court and then the case will be filed in Circuit Court.
Q: What's the contact information for the District Courts?
A: The phone numbers for the six District Courts are Benton: (501) 303-5670; Bryant: (501) 847-5223; Bauxite: (501) 557-5936; Alexander: (501) 455-2585; Shannon Hills: (501) 455-2003; and Haskell: (501) 776-2666.
Q: Where do I pay fines and restitution?
A: Fines imposed for misdemeanors are paid to the Sheriff's Office. For more information, call Linda Hill at (501) 303-5709. Previously established restitution is paid through the Child Support Office; however, newly ordered restitution is paid through the Sheriff's Office. Read the judgment order to determine where you are required to make your individual restitution payments. Fines and restitution ordered by District Court are handled by the District Court.
Q: What is the best way to look at public records filed in the Circuit Clerk's Office?
A: Public court documents filed in the office are quickly scanned and made available on the Internet. Go to caseinfo.aoc.arkansas.gov to see Saline County court records. Also, there are five public work stations available to search these records. Anyone may use the work stations to search the records during business hours. Deputy Clerks are available to instruct the public on the use of the computer search program. Copies of public documents may be printed at a cost of 25-cents per page.
Q: Are juvenile records available for viewing?
A: Neither juvenile records nor court records ordered sealed by a judge are available to the public.
Q: How will I know if I am selected for jury duty?
Q: How should I dress to serve on a jury?
A: There is no official dress code, but "business casual" is a good guide. Potential jurors should be comfortable, but should avoid extremes such as shorts, halter tops, inappropriate t-shirts and muscle shirts.
The important thing is to remember that this is where the people charged with a crime or sued in a civil case receive their rights to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The courtroom is a place of respect, so please dress accordingly. Serving as a juror is a fundamental obligation we all share as citizens of the United States.
Q: What are the requirements for serving as juror?
A: Arkansas Law requires the following qualifications:
1. Saline County Registered Voter
2. 18 years of age or older
3. Citizen of the United States
4. Resident of Saline County, Arkansas
5. Sound mind and good moral character
6. Able to read and write the English Language
7. Must not have served as a juror in Saline County in the last two years
8. Must not have been convicted of a felony that has not been pardoned or expunged.
Q: If serving on a jury is not convenient; can I be excused from jury duty?
A: Only the judge in a case can excuse a person from jury service. A person may be excused if the court finds that either the state's or the juror's interests or those of the public will be materially injured by the juror's attendance. The law does not allow a person to be excused for economic reasons or business reasons. Potential jurors may speak to the judge about special circumstances, but there are no guarantees that anyone will be excused.
Q: What if my boss fires me for being gone for jury service?
A: It is unlawful for any employer to discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate or coerce any employee for attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with jury duty. Upon request, the Circuit Clerk's Office will provide a form for the employer showing when an employee was on jury service.
Q: May I bring a cell phone to Court?
A: You may bring a cell phone to the courtroom; however, is must be turned off. You may ask the Judge for special consideration of this rule if special circumstances exist, such as a family member's medical needs, which require you to remain in close contact. You must give such information to the judge and/or circuit clerk prior to beginning of the trial.
Q: When serving jury duty, will there be a lot of waiting involved?
A: There could be some waiting at the start of the process. The right to a fair trial can involve motions and judicial rulings before a jury is selected.
Q: Will I need to pack a lunch or will one be provided?
A: Saline County does not provide lunch. If you are selected to serve, you will be dismissed for lunch.
Q: Am I required to speak to the attorneys/reporters after the case is concluded?
A: No, you are not required to speak to anyone after the case if contacted to do so. It is simply by your choice. Some attorney's may contact you as jurors to see what they might have done differently during the trail as your opinion holds a great deal of learning knowledge for them. In rare occasions a news reporter may contact you to discuss the case. Again, it is your choice to speak to a reporter or attorney.
Q: Is there an age limit to serve as a juror?
A: In Arkansas there is no exemption on age other than you must be at least 18 years of age or older. As long as you meet the qualifications, you are eligible to serve.
Q: Can my family member serve in my place?
A: No, the law doesn't allow for this substitution. The juror has to come from the random pull of the voter registration data base.
Q: Can anyone volunteer to be a juror?
A: No, as this would allow for one to become very educated in the juror process. The law prohibits one from being a "professional juror." This is one of the reasons the random pull of jurors from a data base is so important.
Q: How much notification do I receive before I'm required to report?
A: Usually you will be notified in one day advance.
Q: How will I be notified to report?
A: You will need to call the jury message number at (501) 303-1570 and listen for the panel number. The message tells when to report or when to call back.
Q: What if I'm going to be gone on vacation or have a doctor's appointment?
A: You should contact the Jury Coordinator at (501) 303-1570 to inform us of any scheduled vacations or medical appointments.
Q: Whom do I contact if I have been called and have an emergency?
A: Contact the jury coordinator at (501) 303-1570 at 8:00 A.M. on the day you are to report. The clerk will then contact the appropriate judge presiding over your case.
Q: What if I have a DWI?
A: A misdemeanor charge does not disqualify you from serving as a juror. A person cannot be qualified if he or she has a felony conviction for which he or she has not been pardoned or the charges not expunged.
Q: What is the pay to serve as a Juror?
A: Jury orientation and jury selection is $25. If you are selected, you will be paid $50 per day.
Q: What do I need to know to bid on foreclosure sales?
A: All property is sold "as is" with no warranty. The Circuit Clerk's Office does not perform land searches. Individuals may use the Circuit Clerk's Office public computer stations to research the history of the properties or hire a title or abstract company to perform this type of search. In most cases, the legal description is all that is available in the court file. Anyone wanting the physical address of the property must seek this information from other sources. The Circuit Clerk's Office only handles judicial foreclosures or sales ordered by the court. All non-judicial foreclosures are sold in the main hallway of the courthouse. Information on each sale is posted on a bulletin board outside the Circuit Clerk's Office. The postings are made by the law firm handling the foreclosure.
Q: Can I prepare my own land deed for filing?
A: Yes, you can, but understand that if there is an error on that deed, such as an incorrect land description, it may cause legal problems years from now for your children, grandchildren or other decedents. When filing important documents like a deed it is always best to use an attorney or title company.
Q: Does the Circuit Clerk's Office have blank forms for such things as deeds, mortgages, divorce, name change, etc?
A: We do not provide any legal forms for deeds, mortgages, etc. If what you are filing is important to you, we recommend you contact an attorney or title company. If you know how to fill out the forms yourself, many office supply stores carry them. Some forms are available on the Internet. For a form to file a pro se divorce, go to www.arkansaslegalservices.org. This is for a divorce without children involved or major property disputes. If children are involved, it is advised you retain an attorney. That website also has forms for such things as a collection agency stop contact letter, expunging of criminal records, a waiver of court and service fees, and other legal forms.
The Circuit Clerk's Office employees may NOT offer legal advice or fill out these forms for you. It is important that if you start a legal proceeding it be followed through until completion. For example, if you file a divorce case without an attorney, follow up and make sure a final divorce decree is issued in the case. Occasionally people have come to the Circuit Clerk's Office seeking a final divorce decree so they can get remarried only to find their divorce was not final and they were still legally married.
Q: Can I file my DD-214 in your office?
A: Yes, those who have served in the military can file their DD-214s in the Circuit Clerk's Office.
Q: Where do I file my notary information?
A: Notary information is filed in the Recorder's Office, located in the Saline County Court House at 200 North Main St. in Benton. For more information on becoming a Notary Public, see the Arkansas Secretary of State web site.
Q: Can I get a copy of my marriage license?
A: Marriage licenses are located in the Saline County Clerk's Office. For more information call (501) 303-5630.
Q: Can I get a marriage license without a copy of my final divorce decree?
A: Yes, but it never hurts to be sure the divorce is final before getting remarried. Even with a marriage license, a new marriage isn't legal unless the divorce is final.
Q: How do I obtain a copy of a birth or death certificate?
A: If the person was born in Arkansas, contact the Bureau of Vital Records 1-800-637-9314
Q: My former spouse is not making child support payments. What is the Circuit Clerk going to do about it?
A: The Circuit Clerk does not enforce child support payments. The office only processes payments and keeps the official record of how much is paid. You should contact Child Support Enforcement at (501) 860-6162.
Q: I got laid off / lost my job. What happens with my child support obligations?
A: You are still obligated for the court-ordered payments. Unless the person receiving child support opens a case with Child Support Enforcement, nothing will happen. When you get another job, or start drawing unemployment insurance payments, you must start making your regular payments plus enough to get caught up on the back child support. Your child's needs don't stop just because your paycheck does. It is possible to get a temporary reduction in child support payments with a judge's order. Contact an attorney or Child Support Enforcement for more information.
Q: My child is 18 and/or has graduated from high school. What do I need to do to stop paying child support?
A: You need a copy of your child's birth certificate and a letter from the high school stating your child has graduated. Bring this information to the Child Support Office in the basement of the Saline County Court House. You will be provided with a form to fill out and submit to Circuit Judge Robert Herzfeld or Circuit Judge Bobby McCallister. After the judge signs it, return the form to the Child Support Office.
Q: How do I increase/decrease amount of child support?
A: You will have to re-open your case. It is best to retain an attorney because changing the amount of child support requires getting a court order.
Q: I have recently moved and need to inform the Child Support Office. Can I do so over the telephone?
A: No. All address changes must be in person or in writing. We are unable to do this by phone for security reasons.
“A prudent question is one half of wisdom.”