Act 138 of 1917 created a Municipal Court which was a continuance of the police court as it existed by law at that time. The police court was abolished and the jurisdiction exercised by it was then vested in the Municipal Court that had been established. This also established the position of Municipal Judge and Municipal Court Clerk. The Municipal Judge would be elected by the qualified electors of the City, and was to hold office for two years. The salary for the Judge was $1500 a year, and remained in effect for at least four years. The City council could at the end of those four years increase the salary not to exceed $2400 a year. The Judge would be elected every two years.
Act 92 of 1935 established that the electors of Miller County, Arkansas should also be voting for the Municipal Judge since the Texarkana, Arkansas Municipal Court had both original and concurrent jurisdiction coextensive with Miller County. The Judge would be elected biennially at the general election for a period of two years. Act 89 of 1957 changed the election of the Judge to be every four years and hold said office for four years. This act also established the salary for the Judge to $5,600 a year with Miller County paying one-third of the salary from the county’s general revenue fund and the City of Texarkana, AR, to pay two-thirds of the salary from the city’s general revenue fund. The Arkansas State Legislature has continued through the years to establish the salary range for the Municipal Judge.
There have been twelve Municipal Judges elected to the bench. The Honorable Kirk D. Johnson is the last judge to sit the bench as a Municipal Judge. Amendment 80 to the Constitution of Arkansas of 1874 became effective in July, 2001. This Amendment changed the name of the Municipal Court to District Court. Judge Johnson then became the first District Court Judge for Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas. He was elected to the position of Circuit Judge for the 8th Judicial District South in the year 2002. He had two years left on the term for District Judge; therefore, Governor Mike Huckabee appointed Judge Carol C. Dalby to complete these two years.
There have been many changes in the court system since its inception. When the Court was originally established the City Clerk was both City Clerk and Court Clerk. The City of Texarkana, AR, in the mid 70’s split the position to two positions, and then in late 1976 established the position for a deputy court clerk to take office in 1977. The court offices and courtroom originally were in the Texarkana, AR City Hall. In September 1985, the court offices and courtroom became residents of the newly completed Bi-State Justice Building.
There has been a Civil Division in the Municipal Court since the court was established. The Small Claims Division was established in 1977 with the purpose of giving individuals an access to civil court without attorneys to represent either side of the issue, and with relaxed rules of procedure. No action may be brought to the small claims court by any collection agency, collection agent, or assignee of a claim or by any person, firm, partnership, association or corporation engaged, either primarily or secondarily, in the business of lending money at interest. In disputes of contracts and/or damage to personal property the small claims suit may be filed in the county where it occurred or where the defendant resides. In debt and all other cases the suit must be filed in the county where the defendant resides.