What Does Covid-19 Mean For My Court Case in Virginia?
By Allan Serrano:
On March 16, 2020 the Supreme Court of Virginia entered an Order of the Court declaring a judicial emergency. As a result of that Order, nearly all Virginia Courts were closed to the public and almost all hearings and trials were continued. In part, the Order instructed the courts as follows:
- [Postpone] 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
- [Postpone] 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.
The original Order in its entirety can be found here:
The Order was renewed on March 27, 2020 and then also on April 22, 2020. The renewed Order functionally closed nearly all Courts to the public through May 17, 2020.
In addition, the April 22, 2020 Order clarified that the intent of the Supreme Court was also to toll any statutes of limitations or case related deadlines which fall within the dates of the declared judicial emergency.
A copy of the third Order can be found here:
In all likelihood, if you had a personal injury case that was set for a trial between March 17, 2020 and May 17, 2020, then your case has been postponed.
The Supreme Court has also gathered the relevant available public information from Courts through the Commonwealth of Virginia in the following document:
The above document has links to websites of Courts which have information available on the internet.
Additionally, most Counties have set up websites that give updates specific to the ongoing public health crisis as seen in the links below:
- Fairfax: http://www.courts.state.va.us/news/items/covid_19.pdf
- Alexandria: https://www.alexandriava.gov/Coronavirus
- Prince William: https://coronavirus.pwcgov.org/
- Arlington: https://health.arlingtonva.us/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/
- Loudoun: https://www.loudoun.gov/5307/Coronavirus
Many of these websites have options that allow you to sign up for updates via text in either Spanish or English.
For example, in Loudoun County COVID-19 text alerts are available in English for those who text “LCCOVID19” to 888777. Text message alerts are also available in Spanish for those who text “LCCOVIDESP” to 888777.
If you are unsure as to the status of your ongoing court case or as to the status of any important court deadlines, we recommend you consult with an attorney.