The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting many areas of every day life right now. The law is no different. While our firm and the courts remain open, there are quite a few restrictions in place to keep in mind.
First, the courts. In March, the Virginia Supreme Court declared a judicial emergency, which has now been extended several times. This has tolled various deadlines and delayed some filings and hearings of non-emergency matters across the state through June. Beginning May 18th, individual courts have had authority to decide what to do with their dockets and different courts have chosen to proceed in different ways. The situation remains very fluid, and if you have an ongoing case, you should consult with your attorney about how your case is being impacted.
As for our office, we are open and our office already has fewer than 10 people in it pretty much at all times, but in light of the Governor’s orders, CDC recommendations, and our own desire to limit spread of the disease, we are not taking any in-person meetings or consultations. We will take your phone calls and answer your e-mails, but we ask that you respect our desire to limit the spread of disease and not come to our office unless absolutely necessary.
As a final note, while many deadlines have been suspended, it is worth noting that life goes on. If you have a matter you need addressed, there is no reason you have to wait until things calm down to address it. The courts are still operating – they are just limiting the flow of people. As an example, if you have an uncontested divorce, it can still be finalized and submitted to the court for completion because no hearings or in-person meetings are required. Settlements may proceed as needed. Moreover, if you need to begin a case, you can still file one right now – hearings may be of limited availability and some deadlines may be extended, but there are still benefits to moving sooner rather than later. Finally, if you have an appeal you need heard or are defending, the judicial emergency, does not apply to the Virginia Supreme Court or Court of Appeals themselves, so appeals are, for the most part, moving forward as normal, except that oral arguments are being conducted by teleconference until the summer and the Court of Appeals is requiring all pleadings to be filed electronically – this is not entirely surprising because outside of oral arguments, appeals are already done remotely and electronically in Virginia.
If you have any questions about how the Coronavirus outbreak may impact your situation, please feel free to give us a call or contact us through the “contact us” link above. Thank you for your patience at this difficult time.