Rockingham County Circuit Court ahead of the curve thanks to technological upgrades

Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 10:51 AM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Since the COVID-19 pandemic many courts across the country have dealt with major backlogs for trials and other cases. However, the Rockingham County Circuit Court has fared better than most.

“There were a lot of courts that shut down. Locally courts closed for a period, not us. Across Virginia, courts closed for weeks at a time, not us. I’m really proud that we continued because of the technology we’ve put in place over the last decade,” said Rockingham County Circuit Court Clerk Chaz Haywood.

The one thing the court was unable to do during the peak of the pandemic was to hold jury trials. While it still has a full docket of jury trials with two to three usually scheduled each day it is not behind schedule or facing a significant backlog.

“As far as jury trials they’re already smoothed out we just have a lot of them on the dockets and people will make decisions whether or not they want to settle or move forward in the cases. That happens all the time, we just have an extra one or two every couple of days but I would say we’re ready,” said Haywood.

The court was able to continue running strong and stay ahead of the curve throughout the pandemic thanks to the technological improvements it had made before.

“The technology that we’ve put in this court house whether it’s the jury system, whether it’s our land record system, whether it’s our e-file system for the civil division, all the different things we’re able to do remotely, I’m really proud because it makes us standout in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Haywood.

People were able to do things like file court documents and apply for marriage licenses online throughout the pandemic which Haywood said actually made things busier for his staff.

“Everything was really busier during that year and a half, two-year period than in subsequent years. But the technology side was everything, we were ready because of the technology improvements we had already made,” he said.

Like many other courts, Haywood said that the circuit court has dealt with some understaffing over the last three years.

“We had a lot of retirements, we had other folks who just moved on to other things. We were probably a quarter of our staff down for a while and that was rough on everyone but we are now almost fully staffed,” he said.