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How the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Judicial Emergency Order #4 May Impact Your Case

by Nikita Wolf, Trial Attorney with the Pendleton Law Team

On May 6, 2020, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued its “Fourth Order Modifying and Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency in Response to COVID-19 Emergency.

As you may be aware, back in March, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued an Order declaring a Judicial Emergency in response to Governor Northam’s Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Courts across the Commonwealth were closed to the public beginning March 16th and have, to date, remained closed.

Many Civil trials – including those for personal injuries – were continued indefinitely as Virginia grapples with the effects of COVID-19.  Since March, the Supreme Court of Virginia has extended the Judicial Emergency three times and yesterday, May 6, 2020, the Court extended the Judicial Emergency for a fourth time.

Here at the Pendleton Law Team, we continue to monitor the Court’s instructions in response to this Judicial Emergency and inform our clients of how it has or may at some point impact their case.  This Fourth Order brings a few changes to how our clients’ cases have and will continue to be impacted by this virus.

Here are some of the highlights from the Court’s May 6th Order:

  • The Declaration of Judicial Emergency is extended to June 6, 2020 and may continue to be extended as the Supreme Court of Virginia sees fit.
  • All jury trials, both civil and criminal, are continued and will need to be rescheduled once the pandemic is over.
  • It is ordered that no jury trials are to occur in the Commonwealth of Virginia until further notice.
  • Courts are encouraged to increase use of video-conferencing tools, telephone hearings, and other methods of electronic communication to conduct as much business as possible.
  • Courts are permitted to conduct certain emergency hearings in-person (subject to strict limitations) and Judges are permitted to limit the number of people in the courtroom and within the Courthouse itself to help minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Clerks’ offices remain open for filing by mail or electronic means, but continue to be closed to the public.

These highlights are those which affect our clients’ personal injury matters.  If you have any questions about how the Court’s Order may affect your case or if you have a criminal matter pending (including any traffic tickets), please contact your attorney.

At the Pendleton Law Team, we have always been big proponents of electronic methods of conducting business and are encouraged by the Court’s expansion into the use of these services as this helps our disabled or otherwise disadvantaged clients seek justice.  While this Order may mean that our clients are not able to get in front of a Judge or jury anytime soon, we are still able to file their lawsuits and put pressure on defendants to give our clients the compensation they deserve.  We will not allow our clients to be silenced by this virus!