There are many suggestions for getting CodeIgniter form validation errors as an array (see this StackOverflow thread and this one). However, I do not like them because they all involve extending the validation library or adding a function to the form helper.
The solution I like is as follows:
$validator =& _get_validation_object(); $error_messages = $validator->_error_array;
This allows you to grab the errors whenever you like wherever you like. And, since I keep forgetting how to do this, I'm making a note here.