Virginia courts push some cases back amid pandemic

The Court of Appeals vacancy will be created by the departure of Judge Charles D. Susano Jr. /...
The Court of Appeals vacancy will be created by the departure of Judge Charles D. Susano Jr. / (MGN)(WVLT)
Published: Mar. 16, 2020 at 5:09 PM EDT
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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court of Virginia has declared a judicial emergency in the commonwealth; and the Supreme Court of West Virginia is following similar actions.

Virginia circuit and district courts

The judicial emergency means that all "non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings in all circuit and district courts" are suspended and all deadlines have been tolled and extended for at least 21 days.

The move is for the safety of court employees, litigants, judges and the public.

All district and circuit courts are ordered to "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."

For cases that will be going on, judges are asked to limit attendees to only attorneys, parties, and necessary witnesses and members of the press.

They will also issues summonses instead of a capias for failure to appear for the time-being.

You can find a full list of court recommendations in the Supreme Court of Virginia order


Changes at the local court level

Individual court systems may make their own guidelines and recommendations as well. You can find a full list, by court, of new guidelines

, as well as some of our specific local court actions below.

Rockingham County General District Court

The Rockingham County General District Court has ordered that all traffic infractions scheduled from Wednesday, March 18, to Thursday, April 30, be continued until dates in June, July, and August.

In addition, all new traffic infractions written from March through April will have court dates starting in June and through the summer.

All felony and misdemeanor cases will go forward as planned, with the continuance policy in place according to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

All new civil case filings, except for unlawful detainers, will be scheduled for June and beyond.

Augusta County Courthouse

Augusta County deputies will now be screening people entering the Augusta County Courthouse, asking them about overseas travel in the past month, if they have a fever, if they're feeling ill, or if they've been ill in recent weeks. If you answer yes to any of those questions, you'll likely not be allowed to enter the courthouse.

Western District of Virginia

In our local federal court, they have issued the following statement:

In connection with all pending Court appearances, you are asked to notify the Court if you or anyone planning to join you at the courthouse has symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or if you or the person joining you have been, exposed within the past 14 days to individuals who may have COVID-19 coronavirus. This will enable the Court to reschedule an appearance that might otherwise risk spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus. Effective immediately, due to the health threats posed by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, naturalization ceremonies are postponed in all divisions until April 1, 2020.