The Resource Agency history
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- The Court of Appeals of Virginia was created by the General Assembly in 1983, effective January 1, 1985. The court is located within the Supreme Court Building in Richmond, Virginia. The Court of Appeals was established to serve as an intermediate appellate court to alleviate the review of circuit court appeals on the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals of Virginia is comprised of eleven judges, each elected to an eight year term by a majority of the members of the General Assembly. A Chief Judge is appointed by a majority vote of the judges of the Court of Appeals and serves a term of four years. The Chief Judge determines the geographic location in which the courts will operate, normally Alexandria, Chesapeake, Richmond and Salem. The clerk of the Court of Appeals receives, processes, and maintains the records of appeals and subsequent documents filed with the Court.
- The Court of Appeals of Virginia must consist of a panel made up of at least three judges. Panel participants are designated by the Chief Judge. Panels hear and determine petitions independent of one another. The court also sits en banc (as a whole) under special circumstances, and these decisions overrule any pervious decisions. The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals extends to final judgments, orders and decrees issued by Domestic Relations courts, the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission, or the circuit courts. The court can consider petitions of appeals in traffic and criminal matters, decisions from circuit courts on concealed weapons permits, preliminary rulings in felony cases, involuntary medical or mental health treatment, and cases where the Commonwealth or local government may have burdened a person’s free exercise of religion. The Court of Appeals also has original jurisdiction to issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, and prohibition in cases which the court holds appellate jurisdiction. Additionally the court has original jurisdiction to bestow a writ of innocence to a person convicted of a felony upon a plea of not guilty.
- A petition is a formal written application to a court requesting judicial action, and is required prior to the court hearing any criminal cases under its jurisdiction and all traffic infraction cases. Each petition is referred to one or more judges of the court and judges may grant petitions without oral arguments. If petitions are granted, a brief is filed by both parties and the clerk of the court refers the appeal to a panel of judges. If a petition is denied then the petitioner may appear before a panel and present oral arguments as to the validity of their appeal. The panel will either agree to deny the appeal and at such time will deliver a brief stating the reason why, ending the case, or the petition is approved and the case proceeds through the courts. Appeals from Domestic Relations, Worker’s Compensation and administrative agencies are heard as a matter of right, meaning the court is required to hear these cases and a petition is not needed. Decisions issued by the Court of Appeals of Virginia are by written opinion or order.
- Cases may be transferred to the Supreme Court if certification is received before being determined by the Court of Appeals. Certification occurs only when a case is deemed of high public importance necessitating prompt judgment. Decisions made by the Court of Appeals are final without appeal to the Supreme Court in matters of traffic infractions or misdemeanor cases which did not result in incarceration, cases originating with an administrative agency or worker’s compensation, and domestic relations cases.
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