Virginia suspends non-emergency court proceedings due to COVID-19

Published 1:40 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


On Monday, March 16, the Supreme Court of Virginia issued an order declaring a judicial emergency in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Effective immediately and extending to Monday, April 6, all non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings in all circuit and district courts in Virginia are now suspended and all deadlines tolled and extended for a period of 21 days.

According to Southampton County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court, Rick Francis, this means all courts in Virginia will postpone all civil, traffic and criminal matters at least until April 6, with the exception of cases involving quarantine or isolation matters, arraignments, bail reviews, protective orders, emergency child custody or protection and civil commitment hearings.

“We are effectively ‘closed to the public’ except for essential/emergency/critical services,” Francis said. “Until April 6, if you have essential court business, you will need to first call our office at 757-653-2200 for access and direction. This includes attorneys and title examiners.” Essential court business, he clarified, includes real estate, financial, civil and criminal filings.

“This is no joke,” Francis added. “If looking to come to the office, be prepared to justify why the filing cannot be performed by mail.”

Concealed handgun permits will likewise be processed by mail only. The issuance of marriage licenses, passports, estate qualifications and other non-essential services are also suspended. Genealogical researchers are directed to the Circuit Court Clerk’s website, where Southampton County’s pre-1880 records can be freely accessed.

“A payment mailbox will be installed near our side entrance for drop-off,” Francis said. “I am accelerating the move to E-filing and E-payment.”