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Amid concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak, Faulkner County District Court officials have canceled and rescheduled additional hearings in Conway, Damascus, Greenbrier, Guy, Mayflower and Vilonia.

District judges David L. Reynolds and Chris R. Carnahan rescheduled multiple hearings after previously canceling proceedings scheduled through spring break because the Arkansas Supreme Court has since ruled that all in-person proceedings in appellate, circuit and district courts are suspended through April 3.

The Arkansas Supreme Court issued on Tuesday a per curiam order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which implemented additional emergency precautions to prevent putting the public at an unnecessary risk of spreading or being exposed to the coronavirus.

Once the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended against gatherings of more than 10 people, the Arkansas Supreme Court implemented stricter safety procedures.

“Despite the suspension of in-person court proceedings, Arkansas courts still must continue to carry out the core, constitutional functions of the Arkansas judiciary as prescribed by law and continue to uphold the constitutional rights of litigants seeking redress in any Arkansas court,” the order signed by Chief Justice John Dan Kemp reads in part. “Each Administrative Judge should work with local law enforcement and county agencies to ensure that, to the extent possible, courthouses remain accessible to carry out essential constitutional functions and time-sensitive proceedings.”

Currently, restrictions remain in effect regarding who enters the Faulkner County Justice Building on East German Lane in Conway. Restrictions were imposed after County Judge Jim Baker closed county offices to the public. Restrictions imposed include barring all individuals not listed on the docket or previously subpoenaed for court from entering the building.

Though the county judge announced earlier this week that all prospective jurors were relieved from duty over the next three weeks, the Arkansas Supreme Court has since ruled that anyone summoned to participate in a jury panel is “hereby suspended [from duty] until Friday, May 1.”

In response to the Arkansas Supreme Court’s per curiam order, district judges in the Ninth Judicial District have adjusted the following hearings in Faulkner County:

Conway District Court Division I and II plea and arraignment hearings

  • Hearings scheduled for March 23 and April 6 are now set for May 23.
  • Hearings scheduled for March 30 are now set for May 26.
  • Hearings scheduled for April 13 are now set for May 11
  • Hearings scheduled for April 20 are now set for June 5.
  • Hearings scheduled for April 27 are now set for July 6.

Conway District Court Division I and II trial dates

  • Trials scheduled for March 24 and April 21 are reset for May 19.
  • Trials scheduled for March 26 are reset for May 7.
  • Trials scheduled for March 31 are reset for May 14.
  • Trials scheduled for April 1 and April 2 are reset for May 28.
  • Trials scheduled for April 7 are reset for May 21.
  • Trials scheduled for April 14 are reset for May 12.
  • Trials scheduled for April 23 are reset for June 2.
  • Trials scheduled for April 28 are reset for June 25.

Conway District Court Division I and II civil and small claims hearings

  • Hearings set for March 25 will now by held on May 6.
  • Hearings set for April 15 were moved to June 24.

Damascus District Court

  • Proceedings set for April 12 are reset for May 12.

Greenbrier District Court Division I and II hearings

  • Hearings set for April 14 will now be held May 27.
  • Proceedings scheduled for April 21 are reset for July 14.

Guy District Court

  • Hearings set for April 21 will now be held July 14.

Mayflower District Court

  • Hearings scheduled for April 22 are now set for July 15.

Vilonia District Court

  • Hearings scheduled for April 28 are now set for May 13.

First appearance hearings will continue as usual so that a bond can be set in each case. These hearings are held at 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Typically, these hearings are open to the public. However, officials said they will be closed to the public until further notice.

“These hearings will be closed to be public until the crisis abates,” district court officials announced Thursday. “However, should an alternate means of broadcasting the hearings become economically feasible, the Court will post notices on the Courthouse door and to the Media on how to observe these hearings.”

For a full list of court-related cancelations from across the state, visit www.arcourts.gov/news/judiciary -closings-cancellations-changes.

Staff writer Marisa Hicks can be reached at mhicks@thecabin.net.

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