COVID-19 and Tidewater Courts; Criminal Cases and Updates
Updated: Jun 10
** You are responsible for communicating with your lawyer, checking your individual court's website, or calling the clerk's office for more direction; however I will update this information as often as possible.
Due to the vastly different standards for each court throughout Tidewater, each court's individual order must be carefully analyzed to determine whether certain cases are being heard; I can no longer enumerate the provisions on this page.
The Virginia Emergency Period and has been extended through June 28, 2020. Many Individual Courts have NOT updated their individual Orders and will therefore require a call to their Clerk's Office for specific instruction.
In light of the Governor's quarantine and the State and Federal Declarations of Emergency, we now available by telephone, video conference, and limited in-person meetings. The health, safety, and well-being of our clients and staff is of highest concern.
If you need any legal assistance, please call me directly at (757) 687-3657.
***** It seems the Supreme Court of Virginia unilaterally decided that Speedy Trial limitations will be tolled from March 16, 2020 through June 28, 2020. The link to the Order is here. But, not all is lost. There is still a United States Constitution with speedy trial protections to argue. If you have a close case, it will be worth the argument. If not, then this indicates how the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in a contest on speedy trial during COVID-19.
The Virginia Beach Bar Association has provided a comprehensive web page of recent court orders and links for Virginia Beach. This valuable resource may be found here.
Supreme Court of Virginia
The Supreme Court of Virginia has Extended and Modified the Declaration of Judicial Emergency; Now expiring June 7, 2020.
In yet another "Order Modifying and Extending Declaration of Judicial Emergency," the Virginia Supreme Court extended the emergency through June 7, 2020 with clear-as-mud conditions, encouraging local courts to make up the rules on their own with guidelines that don't seem to yet exist. I am a big opponent of "one-size-fits-all" regulations in this respect. And, I really want courts to open so my clients can find justice and closure. However, the newest order advises each jurisdiction to start opening while still remaining effectively closed. Here are some of the terms in effect as of May 18, 2020:
a) Prioritize emergency matters such as arraignments, bail reviews, protective order cases, emergency child custody or protection cases, and the like ("do the same as before");
b) "continue to conduct as much business as possible by means other than in-person court proceedings..." and "increase the use of video conferencing, telephone... or other means that do not involve in-person contact" ("same-same, but do more of it");
c) "all courts may hear in-person non-emergency matters if they determine it is safe to do so, and provided they comply with the guidance for transitioning from emergency to routine operations provided by the Office of the Executive Secretary in order to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 from in-person court proceedings." ... ("open the court for other stuff, but if you do, follow directions that don't yet exist and make sure you are super careful");
d) courts should screen people for COVID-19 and prohibit them from entering the courthouse ("make the lines really long... the zig-zag has always been too short");
e) Judges are responsible for taking steps to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of people in courtrooms and ensure people remain 6-feet apart, ("open the court, but the Judge is responsible for everything that happens inside, so you should probably keep people out");
f) clerks must ensure they remain open ("we say 'remain' in jest");
g) defendant's right to a speedy trial is still tolled through June 7, 2020 ("you in the jail still don't matter to us, LOL");
h) court's should enter their own orders to advise of their new protocols ("let everyone know how different your court is going to be from every other jurisdiction in the area; the most creative rules get a special award in December");
i) there will be no jury trials... ("this Amendment was number SIX... it can't be that important")
Overall, this "transition" period should be as smooth as Lindsay Lohan's career in Hollywood.
Due to the vastly different standards for each court throughout Tidewater, each court's individual order must be carefully analyzed to determine whether certain cases are being heard; I can no longer enumerate the provisions on this page. ---
Federal Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk, Newport News)
- See the District Court Website for critical updates here.
- The public may use the drop boxes during hours when the courthouses are open to the public. Drop Box Procedures.
See the District Court Website for critical updates here.
The Norfolk/ Newport News Federal District Court has provided a chart of NEW court dates for those cases continued between March 16- April 30. See HERE.
Virginia Beach General District Court
- The VB General District Court will begin a modified opening on May 18, 2020; pay attention to your court date and the order, here
- Go to www.courts.state.va.us for case information and new court dates
NO persons will be admitted to the courtrooms of the GDC for any other matters without permission of the Court. No persons will be permitted to come to the GDC clerk's offices except for the matters enumerated in the court order as being "heard."
Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court
Latest Order here
Virginia Beach Circuit Court
Latest Order here
- Clerk's Office Boxes will be available from 8:15am till 2:00pm Monday - Friday
- Bond Appeal Cutoffs: Per Court directive, it is hereby ADJUDGED and ORDERED that 11:00 is the cut off time for scheduling bond appeals. Any requests after 11:00 shall be placed on next day docket
Virginia Beach Circuit Court Clerk's Office
Circuit Court Clerk’s Office Opens Satellite Office to Provide Some Services:
Drive-Through Service Only
The Circuit Court Clerk’s Office has opened a satellite office at 1804 Princess Anne Road to be able to provide some services it had to curtail when the Courthouse building closed to the general public a few weeks ago. “We are pleased we can begin offering these services again,” said the Honorable Tina E. Sinnen, Clerk of the Virginia Beach Circuit Court. This office is open 9 AM to 1 PM, Monday thru Friday, drive-through service only, and only for the following:
First-time Concealed Carry Permits – applicants must bring a current application, a government-issued picture ID, proof of competency and $50 fee (cash or check). First time applicants must appear in person. For further information about the requirements, visit the Virginia State Police website at https://www.vsp.virginia.gov/Firearms.shtm or call Nancy White at (757) 385-8532.
Marriage Licenses—both parties must be present, have government-issued photo identification and have completed the marriage license application. It is available online at www.vbgov.com/marriage and at the satellite office. The license fee is $30 in cash (please have exact cash, if possible).
Notary Items for Pick-up – For those who receive notice that your Notary is available to be picked up at the Clerk’s Office, pick these up at this satellite location.
Virginia Beach Jail
- Attorneys may visit their clients via on-site video with an appointment.
- Information on all jail program changes may be found at the VBSO Corona Virus Web Page.
- ON-SITE visitation by inmate's friends, family, and attorneys is cancelled for the "foreseeable future" - visits may be arranged by video through their website.
- Weekender Program: Effective Monday, March 9, the Weekender Program has been SUSPENDED until further notice. Weekenders with questions about their options to complete their sentence should call (757) 385-1050.
Norfolk Court Information
All Norfolk Court Information - located here
(courtesy of the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association)
Norfolk City Jail
- All on-site visitation is cancelled until further notice.
- Video Visitation for Attorneys: Jail website.
- Attorneys who have not yet been credentialed for video visitation will need to appear in-person for credentialing.
- Video Hours: M- F: 7AM- 4PM, and; 7PM-11PM. Sat-Sun.: 8AM-10PM
Chesapeake Courts Generally
- Information Available: Chesapeake City Website
-Latest Courthouse Security and Safety Order here
Chesapeake Circuit Court
- Circuit Court Operating Schedule here
- Requests for emergency hearing of cases during the 21 day period shall be made by telecommunication to the Circuit Court Judges' chambers via email (email@example.com) or fax (757-382-3080).
Western Tidewater Regional Jail
- Jail Website: here.
- Friends and family visits are canceled until further notice. - Attorneys are still allowed to visit.
- No information on video visitation.