Most Virginia courts will start hearing non-emergency cases on May 18. (They are hearing emergency cases now.) Thanks to an excellent zoom meeting hosted by Chesterfield General District Court Chief Judge Keith Hurley, here are some tips for going back to court. Other courts may have similar advice.
Even if a face covering is not mandated, you should have your mask, bandanna or other face covering readily available. A judge might not let you in his or her courtroom without it, or may delay your case to the end of the docket.
Restricted license applications can be dropped off at the court (outside box or to clerk at specific times). Judges and clerks will handle the paperwork and be back in touch. Be sure to leave your contact information.
Seating in court rooms is limited, and marked six feet apart. Since seats are for parties and witnesses, don’t expect to bring friends and family.
Dockets may be segmented into 30-minute intervals, to avoid crowd buildup.
Telephonic and webex hearings can be requested, and will be granted as appropriate. Continuances will be liberally granted. Just having a pandemic going on is not a reason, but being part of a vulnerable group is.
Sheriff’s deputies will be checking that social distancing is followed in courthouse buildings.
Thanks to all judges, clerks, bailiffs and others for working to assure that access to justice is again provided, even during times of a pandemic. Lawyers, defendants, witnesses and friends will have to put up with some inconveniences, but patience and persistence will allow the justice system to work again.