WEATHER-RELATED COURT CLOSINGS
AND HOW THEY AFFECT YOUR DEADLINES
 
Important update:  According to a recorded message, the Clerk’s Office will be closed all day today (Thursday) due to inclement weather, and the Fourth Circuit Clerk’s Office will close at noon.  See below for a discussion of how this affects your filing deadlines.
 
[Posted December 16, 2010]  As I type this, a few minutes before 7:00 am on Thursday, school systems and courts are closing in many locations across the Commonwealth, including in central Virginia, due to a significant winter storm.  The latest information I have is that the Supreme Court Clerk’ Office will open at 10:15 am today, two hours later than normal.  The Court of Appeals of Virginia generally follows the Supreme Court’s lead.
 
The Virginia statute governing court closings provides that any filing deadlines are tolled if the last day is a day on which the Clerk’s Office is closed for a “day or part of a day.”  That makes it sound like this two-hour delay will extend your filing deadline.  Fair warning:  It won’t, at least given how the Supreme Court has always interpreted the statute.  If the Clerk’s Ofiice closes early due to weather, you get the extra day; but opening late won’t help you.
 
Of course, it is foreseeable to me that the worsening weather may cause the court to close for the entire day — Richmond is under a winter storm warning from the folks at the National Weather Service, with forecasts of significant snow and ice — and if that happens, your free day will arrive like an early present from St. Nick (the patron saint of deadline extensions, I understand).
 
I don’t have any information about the Fourth Circuit yet; I’ll check with that office around 8:30, which is its normal opening time, and will post here what I learn.  If you need to know right away, you can call the Fourth Circuit Clerk’s Office at (804) 916-2700.  If there is a closure, you’ll get a recorded message to let you know that.  As of right now, there is no such recording, so you should assume that the court will open on schedule.  [Update 9:30 am:  The Fourth is open for business as usual.  If the weather deteriorates, the court may consider closing early, but as of now, they’re open, so your deadlines are unaffected.]
 
One last point, and this is very important:  If you have a deadline for filing something in your trial court — for example, a notice of appeal, a transcript, or an appeal bond — and your court remains open today, you do not get the benefit of any extension for what happens in Richmond.  In that event, you have to trudge over to the courthouse and file on time.