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News & Press: General

Judicial Emergency Declared in Response to COVID-19 Emergency

Monday, March 16, 2020   (0 Comments)
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The chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia declared a judicial emergency for all district and circuit courts of Virginia today, March 16. Through April 6, 2020, non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings in all circuit and district court are suspended. All deadlines are extended for 21 days.

The order can be extended by a majority of the justices of the Supreme Court to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

Find the full order online atop http://www.courts.state.va.us/main.htm. Appellate and local court information is also linked on that page.

The declaration makes several points about court business:

  1. courts must hear emergency matters. In ongoing jury trials and cases where the defendant is incarcerated, judges can exercise discretion on whether to proceed
  2. postpone all ceremonies
  3. in matters that cannot be continued, limit courtroom attendance to attorneys, parties and necessary witnesses and members of the press
  4. issue summonses in lieu of a capias for failure to appear
  5. in 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 Centers for Disease Control
  6. suspend new juror orientations
  7. attorneys should be required to use e-Filing if available
  8. permit people with legitimate court business who are ill, caring for someone ill or at high risk of infection to contact the court to request appropriate accommodation
  9. have the locality post signage at all public entry points to advise people not to enter the building if they have traveled in the previous 14 days to high-risk countries identified by the CDC, traveled domestically where COVID-19 has sustained widespread community transmission, been asked to quarantine or isolate, or been diagnosed with or had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, has a fever, cough or shortness of breath or lives with or been in close contact with anyone referred to in these categories. They may be denied entrance and referred to contact the clerk by remote means
  10. require social distancing throughout the courthouse
  11. use telephonic or video technology as provided in the Code of Virginia, for all necessary hearings, trials or other matters, including arraignments.

The order allows chief district and chief circuit judges to implement additional local policies.

It also, to the extent possible, calls for courts and clerks' offices to continue providing "essential services while balancing the health and safety needs of court visitors and personnel."


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