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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Coronavirus: Virginia courts operating on limited capacity

Due to cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Peninsula, local courts are rescheduling cases and changing operations.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Donald Lemons declared an order of judicial emergency at the request of Gov. Ralph Northam, according to a copy of the declaration provided by Colleen Killilea, district court judge for the ninth judicial district. The order applies to all district and circuit courts in Virginia.

Continuing through April 6, all non-essential and non-emergency court proceedings will be suspended. In addition, all deadlines are tolled and extended for a period of 21 days.

Civil, traffic and criminal matters will be continued to a later date. There will be exceptions for emergency matters, including cases that involve quarantine and isolation, bail reviews, protective order cases, emergency child custody or protection cases and civil commitment hearings.

All ceremonies such as juvenile licensing ceremonies will be continued to a later date.

Courts will also limit courtroom attendance to attorneys, parties and necessary witnesses. Members of the press will also be allowed in cases that cannot be rescheduled.

Instead of issuing a capias for failure to appear, courts will issue summonses.

In the case of trials that cannot be continued, courts will allow excuses or will postpone service for jurors who are sick, caring for someone who is sick or considered at high risk for complications due to the coronavirus.

Courts will also suspend new juror orientations and require attorneys to use e-Filing services if available.

In addition, local courts should post signage at entrances that advise the public against entering the building if they have the travel history or symptoms congruent to the virus. If an individual tries to enter the court in violation of these protocols, they will be denied entrance by a bailiff or court security officer. These individuals will be directed to contact the clerk’s office through remote services, such as by telephone. 

Courts will also work with local law enforcement to prohibit groups and individuals from gathering in the courthouse.

Prior to the order, Killilea announced the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court would be closed until March 30. Now they will be closed through April 6. This closure does not impact the clerk’s office.

During the closure, there will still be video arraignments held, hearings for those already in custody and bond hearings. Preliminary protective orders will be done by affidavits and full protective orders will still be heard in court. All contested civil cases will be continued to a further date.

Any preliminary protective orders will be done by affidavit. 

Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green and all other criminal attorneys are rescheduling cases where the defendant is not in custody to April 7. However, this date could change based on future community health. 

Unsure about your case, here are some important numbers:

WJCC: 

  • General District Court  757-564-2400
    Circuit court  757-564-2242
    Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court 757-564-2200.

York County:

  • District: 757-890-3450
  • Circuit: 757-890-3350

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Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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