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THE PLATFORM

LaTonya has a 3-D platform. She believes that people’s opinion of the criminal justice system derives from their experience in District Court. LaTonya plans to use judicial DISCRETION in DECREASING criminal activity and decreasing DISTRUST in the system. LaTonya’s experiences have taught her how to do this in a way that will yield a fair judgment for every person appearing in court.

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THE PERSON

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With a broad range of legal experience, passion and great determination, LaTonya is uniquely qualified and suited for this judicial seat. She has practiced criminal law in State (District and Circuit) and Federal Courts all across Arkansas and has sit as a Special Judge in multiple District Courts in Pulaski County over the last 8 years.

QUALIFIED
Austin is a Little Rock native and Honor graduate of Little Rock Central High School and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She attended and graduated from the UALR Bowen School of Law as a Bowen Scholar.

PASSIONATE
Austin's community work includes being an active member of the St. Luke Baptist Church in North Little Rock, as well as the Pulaski County Bar Association, Volunteer Organization of Center for Arkansas Legal Services (VOCALS), eStem Community Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Board Member of the Arkansas Learning Alliance, Inc., Positive People Promotions, Inc., and other community organizations.
 

EXPERIENCED
Austin has served in the following capacities over the length of her legal career:

  • Writing appellate briefs for the criminal division of the Arkansas Attorney General's office under Mark Pryor
  • Deputy Prosecutor under Pulaski County Judge Larry Jegley
  • Deputy Public Defender for Pulaski County
  • Private defense attorney for The Austin Law Firm, PLLC working with clients across the state

Austin's areas of focus include:

  • Criminal Defense
  • Domestic Relations
  • Probate
  • Civil Litigation
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Having practiced as a Deputy Prosecutor, Defense Attorney and Special Judge, I’ve learned that everyone has a story. The victim of the crime has a story. The defendant also has a story. No two situations are the same. It is the job of the Judge to act as a referee and listen to the respective stories in that specific situation and render a fair decision based solely on the law and facts relevant to that particular case.
— LaTonya Laird Austin
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THE POSITION

The mission of the Little Rock District Court Judge Criminal Division as defined by the City of Little Rock is to provide the public with impartial and timely adjudication of criminal offenses; to divert offenders from criminal activity and increase public accountability through probation, drug testing, victim restitution and community service programs.

District Court (formerly Municipal Court) adjudicates misdemeanor charges and sets bonds in felony matters. According to Arkansas Statute, District Courts cannot adjudicate any felony charges.

All felony charges enter the District Court for plea and setting of bond. The District Court may also handle bond hearings and probable cause hearings. After this, these cases are transferred to Circuit Court for adjudication.

Pursuant to Administrative Order No. 18, District Court Judges may, in addition to the types of cases and issues described above, now, hear some civil, domestic relations, and probate cases. These types of cases include, but are not limited to: contract cases, unlawful detainers (an eviction tool), divorce cases, administration of a decedent’s estate, recovery of personal property, damage to personal property, and Orders of Protection. So, it is important that the Judge is familiar with and knowledgeable about the issues presented by these types of cases.

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