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Filing fee increases advance

The Senate voted 23-17 today to drastically increase filing fees in general district and circuit courts to provide money for sheriffs and commonwealth’s attorneys.

Proponents of Senate Bill 329, patroned by Sen. Richard H. Stuart, R-Westmoreland, contend there is no other to generate about $50 million and save the jobs of about 1,400 deputy sheriffs.

Critics countered that the fees deny access to justice and shift what has always been and should remain a service financed by the general fund rather than by court fees. An earlier article outlines the fee increases.

A supporter of the proposal, Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-Williamsburg, hinted that the bill may face a difficult time in the House of Delegates, where he said, “This bill has miles to go before it sleeps.”

State trial lawyers, landlords, credit card companies and retail merchants are lining up to oppose the bill, but expect to see legions of sheriffs when the bill comes up for discussion in the House. They packed Senate legislative meetings on the bill.

By Alan Cooper

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