The General District Courts and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts in Accomack and Northampton Counties have announced how they will respond to the Coronavirus threat.  The Supreme Court of Virginia has declared a statewide “Judicial Emergency,” in response to the Governor’s temporary ban on large gatherings.  Our local District Courts are following an Emergency Order issued in Richmond by Virginia Chief Justice Donald Lemons.  The Circuit Courts in both Accomack and Northampton Counties will follow a similar policy.

From March 16th through April 6th, all District Courts will remain in operation for essential functions, but most cases will be postponed, and all deadlines will be extended for 21 days.  The “essential functions” include issuing protective orders, hearings to review and extend protective orders, and bond review hearings for persons who have been arrested and are held in jail without bond.  In the J&DR Court, a judge will continue to hear emergency child custody or protective orders.  All district courts will continue to appoint lawyers promptly for people who have been arrested.

All other criminal, civil, and traffic cases in the General District Court will be moved to new dates after the Judicial Emergency Order ends.  In the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, child custody cases, criminal and traffic cases involving juveniles, and most adult criminal trials and preliminary hearings will be moved to new dates as well.  The ceremony to issue new driver’s licenses will also be rescheduled.

All adults and witnesses with General District Court appearances scheduled between March 16th and April 6th will be able to find their new court dates on the court system’s website, www.courts.state.va.us.  Affected parties in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court should call the Clerk’s Office.  The Clerk’s Offices of the District Courts in both Eastern Shore counties will remain in operation to answer telephone calls about scheduling.

For all matters that will continue to be heard through April 6th, the Courts have issued guidelines that prohibit entry by anyone who has traveled recently in a high-risk country or region, and others who have been exposed to Coronavirus victims.  Anyone with a fever or other symptoms should call the Court and request a continuance.  Only the parties to a case, lawyers, necessary witnesses, and members of the press should enter the courthouse during this time.

CONTACT FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Accomack County:

General District Court – Francina Chisum, Clerk – 757-787-0923

Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court – Roland Leighton, Clerk – 757-787-0920

Northampton County:

General District Court – Karen Merritt, Clerk – 757-678-0466

Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court – Francine Williams, Clerk –  757-678-1269

 

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