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Posted on: March 17, 2020


Virginia Supreme Court

 Below, (long read) is a declaration issued by the Virginia Supreme Court concerning the status of all courts in the Commonwealth. 

 Most ALL cases, hearings and court events are currently on hold (with a very few exceptions)

 After reading this, if you have any questions, contact our local courts:
 Circuit - 540-483-3065
 General District - 540-483-3060
 Juvenile - 540-483-3055

 Supreme Court of Virginia
 On March 12, 2020, Governor Northam entered Executive Order Number Fifty-One (2020) Declaration of a State of Emergency Due to Novel Coronavirus COVID-19. The Governor noted that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been working with local, state, and federal officials, healthcare and emergency management experts, and various state agencies to form a COVID-19 Taskforce to prepare for and respond to this threat, and that, given recent confirmed occurrences of COVID-19 within the Commonwealth and in neighboring states, as well as information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is anticipated that the disease will spread. A state of emergency exists in the Commonwealth of Virginia and efforts of the executive branch are underway to continue to prepare and coordinate its response to the potential spread of COVID-19, a communicable disease of public health threat. 

 This state of emergency became effective March 12, 2020, and is to remain in full force and in effect until June 10, 2020, unless sooner amended or rescinded by further executive order.

 On Sunday March 15, 2020, Governor Northam announced a statewide ban on all events over 100 people. In light of the foregoing and the Chief Justice having received today, March 16, 2020, a request from the Governor for a declaration of a judicial emergency in all district and circuit courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, pursuant to Va. Code § 17.1-330, this Order declaring a judicial emergency is hereby issued for all district and circuit courts of the Commonwealth to protect the health and safety of court employees, litigants, judges, and the general public. 

 This Order shall be in effect from today, Monday, March 16, to Monday, April 6, 2020, and it is hereby ORDERED that NON-ESSENTIAL, NON-EMERGENCY court proceedings in all circuit and district courts be and hereby are SUSPENDED and all deadlines are hereby tolled and extended, pursuant to Va. Code § 17.1-330(D), for a period of twenty-one (21) days, and all circuit and district courts shall implement the following measures absent a specific exception as listed below:
 1. Continue all civil, traffic and criminal matters, including jury trials, subject to a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, with the exception of emergency matters, including but not limited to, quarantine or isolation matters, arraignments, bail reviews, protective order cases, emergency child custody or protection cases, and civil commitment hearings. Judges may exercise their discretion with regard to proceeding with ongoing jury trials, and in cases where the defendant is incarcerated.
 2. Continue all ceremonies, such as juvenile licensing ceremonies.
 3. Limit courtroom attendance to attorneys, parties, and necessary witnesses and members of the press in any matters that cannot be continued.
 4. Issue summonses in lieu of a capias for failure to appear.
 5. For jury trials that cannot be continued, excuse or postpone jury service for jurors who are ill, caring for someone who is ill, or in a high-risk category as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
 6. Suspend new juror orientations.
 7. Require attorneys to use e-Filing if available.
 8. Require individuals with legitimate court business who are ill, caring for someone who is ill, or is otherwise in a high-risk category, as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), to call the local clerk of court or other appropriate court personnel to request an appropriate accommodation.
 9. Consult with the locality, including the sheriff, about posting signage at all public entry points advising individuals not to enter the building if they have:
 a. visited China, Iran, South Korea, any European countries, or any other high-risk countries identified by the CDC in the previous 14 days;
 b. traveled domestically within the United States where COVID-19 has sustained widespread community transmission;
 c. been asked to quarantine, isolate, or self-monitor by any doctor, hospital, or health agency;
 d. been diagnosed with, or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with, COVID-19;
 e. a fever, cough, or shortness of breath; or
 f. resided with or been in close contact with any person in the above-mentioned categories.
 Individuals attempting to enter the court in violation of these protocols may be denied entrance by a bailiff or court security officer, and may be directed to contact the clerk’s office by telephone or other remote means to inform the clerk of their business before the court so as to receive further instruction regarding alternate arrangements for court access.
 10. Consult with the sheriff and/or bailiffs to prohibit individuals or groups from congregating anywhere in the courthouse, and to require social distancing throughout the courthouse, including inside the courtroom.
 11. Use telephonic or video technology, as provided in the Code of Virginia, for all necessary hearings, trials, or other matters, including arraignments.

 Nothing in this Order shall preclude the chief district and chief circuit judges from implementing additional local policies as needed. Except as provided in this order, to the extent possible, the courts and clerks’ offices shall remain operational and provide essential services while balancing the health and safety needs of court visitors and personnel. This Order shall be effective from March 16, 2020, to April 6, 2020, This Order may be extended for additional periods not to exceed 21 calendar days or for the duration of the threat, by a majority of the justices of the Supreme Court to mitigate the risks potential spread of COVID-19.

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