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Court of Appeals to hold telephone hearings

The Court of Appeals of Virginia says it will conduct its upcoming dockets via telephone conference through at least June 30.

In a March 18 notice, the court said the action was taken in an “abundance of caution and to protect the safety and wellbeing of all who participate” in court proceedings. The notice said details regarding phone numbers, access codes and confirming the dates and times would be provided with scheduling notices in the normal course for court dockets.

Also on March 18, the Supreme Court of Virginia notified attorneys scheduled to argue writ panels on March 31 that they have a choice: argument by telephone or waiving argument, according to a web post by appellate attorney Steven Emmert. The court reportedly gave each such advocate until March 24 to notify the Chief Staff Attorney.

On March 19, Emmert added this update to the Court of Appeals information:

According to Chief Deputy Clerk John Vollino, the court wants everything filed electronically and strongly prefers not to receive paper filings. The Clerk’s Office will enable VACES filing for all attorneys and pro se parties for all documents that otherwise would be filed in paper form. The web address for such filings is:

http://www.vacourts.gov/online/vaces/home.html

For persons using the VACES system, motions may be filed as “Other” along with the existing record number. For initial filings, such as a notice of appeal, call the document “Other” and use a record number of 0000-00. The clerk will process it from there, and will contact you to make arrangements for the filing fee. John says that he expects to be set up to accept credit-card payments by later today.

For pro se filings where litigants don’t have access to VACES, the court asks that everything be filed by e-mail. The address is cavbriefs@vacourts.gov. Only if e-mail is unavailable, pro se litigants may mail the documents to the Clerk, or deposit them in a drop box just inside the courthouse, at the Eighth Street entrance.

If you need to contact the Clerk’s Office, be patient. They’re operating on a skeleton crew that’s juggling the court’s normal caseload in decidedly abnormal times.

The list of local court schedule changes on the website of Virginia’s Judicial System grew to 46 pages as of March 19.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia has restricted access to the Poff Federal Building in Roanoke.