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Legislators seek court studies

Virginia lawmakers are proposing to study trial judges’ caseloads and the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals.

House Bill 745 would give the Supreme Court until October of next year to perform a “weighted caseload” study of judicial work and recommend any changes in the maps of circuits and districts. The bill was offered by Del. Ben Cline, R-Amherst. It provides no extra money for the task, widely described as expensive and time consuming.

The bill responds to the  Supreme Court task force that recommended further study before embarking on any realignment of the judicial circuits and districts.

Another measure, House Joint Resolution 111, would call on the Judicial Council to consider expansion of the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals. That court currently handles appeals involving domestic relations, traffic and criminal matters, and administrative appeals. The resolution sponsored by Del. Sal Iaquinto, R-Virginia Beach, recites that, despite the work of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court still has to turn down many appeals because of its caseload.

Iaquinto’s resolution also suggests it’s time for the Court of Appeals to explore new legal territory. The court “has extensively developed the case law concerning matters within the ambit of its appellate jurisdiction during its 27-year existence,” the measure reads.

By Peter Vieth

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