NOTE ON COURT CLOSURES (AND OPENINGS)
(Posted March 16, 2020) While contagion fears have shuttered many businesses and all public schools, the appellate courts here remain open – mostly. The Supreme Court and Court of Appeals remain open for official business, which includes filing briefs and other pleadings. This means that if your deadline is today, you have to get it in today. That being said, SCV Clerk Doug Robelen strongly prefers that you file by mail if possible, instead of marching into the Clerk’s Office, possibly bringing unwanted passengers with you. See Rules 5:5(c) and 5A:3(d) for specifics on how to file by mail.
The next scheduled court date for the justices is in two weeks, when writ panels convene on March 31. The court hasn’t made an announcement on whether that date will hold firm or will be postponed or canceled. It’s conceivable that the justices could convert this to an all-telephonic session, since the court does hear writ arguments by telephone upon request.
Matters are a bit more urgent in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, which is scheduled to meet for a single en banc argument tomorrow. The court has wisely directed telephonic oral argument in that one. The next milepost is a Norfolk docket on March 24; I’m not sure what the court will do with that.
Your local court’s opening or closure might be relevant, because some documents — notably a notice of appeal or an appeal bond — go there instead of to the appellate court. Here’s a link to the courts system’s website showing individual court statuses.
In the Fourth Circuit, the Clerk’s Office is open, but the court has postponed this week’s slate of oral arguments.
Finally, the Supreme Court of the United States announced this morning that the March sitting, scheduled for next week and the week after, is being postponed. The Clerk’s Office is open for filings as usual.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court has issued an order that declares a state of judicial emergency. All non-emergency hearings and trials in the next three weeks are continued, and deadlines are tolled for that period. This order affects only circuit and district courts, and does not expressly mention the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals. We’re still waiting for word on proceedings in those courts.
I’ve learned that the Court of Appeals will decide Tuesday, March 17, what to do about next Monday’s panels in Norfolk. If I get word, I’ll post that here.