Welcome to the FBA's news center! Here you'll find the latest FBA and court information.
If you are a media representative and would like to contact the FBA regarding an upcoming story, call 703-246-3721 or e-mail email@example.com.
• Sign-up for Your 2013-2014 Bar Committee Today: Committee involvement provides an opportunity to influence the direction of the bar, network with colleagues with similar interests, and support the community. Committee participation is free and is open to all members of the association. If you have an interest in serving on a FBA committee, please fill out and submit the sign-up form to the FBA office. Members who wish to serve on a bar committee must register each year as committee membership does not automatically carry over from one year to the next. If you have any question, please contact us at 703-246-2740.
• Lawyer Referral Service's Simply Brilliant Totally Awesome Drawing: Each year, FBA members refer hundreds of individuals to the FBA Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). To thank those attorneys for their continued support, the LRS will hold a drawing each quarter with the winning entry awarded a dinner card/certificate ($200 max) to one of a dozen preselected restaurants in Northern Virginia. Each time any FBA attorney refers an individual to the LRS, an entry will be generated from a simple e-mail the attorney sends to LRS at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the referred client and, if available, the referred person's telephone number. If the attorney refers four people in the first quarter, he/she would receive four entries for that quarter's drawing. To learn more about this giveaway, use the Court News link below.
• In addition to the four quarterly drawings, the LRS will at year-end hold a "Grand Prize" drawing from entries received during the year for a weekend stay at either The Greenbrier or The Homestead. Please click here for further details about the drawing and click here for information about the FBA LRS and its panel member attorneys.
• Congrats to the following members who have been newly elected, re-elected, or Court-appointed to three-year terms on the Virginia State Bar Council: James A. Watson II, Raymond B. Benzinger, Sean P. Kelly, and Gifford R. Hampshire. Also, congrats to Sharon D. Nelson who was sworn in as the 75th VSB president on June 14, 2013.
• New Feedback Program: The General District Court Bench, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Bench and the FBA are pleased to announce the adoption of the Judicial Feedback Program. Please see the attached rules and procedures for the GDC and J&DR rules and procedures regarding administration of the Program. See this Word document for the GDC Judicial Feedback Form and this Word document for the J&DR Judicial Feedback Form. Your active participation is encouraged.
General Court News
• Intake Discharge Policy: Inmate Discharge Policy: The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office has traditionally released inmates at 12:01 AM on the day their respective sentences are complete. Therefore, an inmate serves only one minute on the last day of his or her incarceration. While this "early release" policy may seem like a gift, in practice it complicates life for many inmates and the community. Inmates who are homeless are put out on the street in the dark of night with no safe place to go. Families with small children or the elderly have difficulty doing a midnight pickup. Inmates who need medical or mental health treatment may have to wait several hours for doors to open.
• A new Sheriff's Office policy, effective March 4, 2014, will change the inmate release time to 8:00 AM, a time when resources and services are more readily available. Our goal is to provide inmates with the best opportunity to safely and productively re-enter our community. If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
• Conference Rooms in the Courthouse Now Available to Attorneys and Their Clients: The Fairfax County Courthouse is now offering access to conference rooms in the courthouse for attorneys and their clients as a secure and convenient workspace during trials. These spaces will be available only to active Virginia Bar members associated with a case being heard in any court in the complex. Rates vary from $200 to $300 a day based on the size of the space.
• New Card Readers: The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office will begin using a new card reader system at the Fairfax County Courthouse. This system is designed to read the bar code on all Sheriff's Office issued court identification cards. The new system will require that individuals scan their identification cards upon entering the Fairfax County Courthouse. The card readers are located at the main, ADC, and employee entrances to the courthouse. New identification cards can be obtained by contacting the information desk, located at the main entrance to the courthouse, to request an appointment. Old "blue" attorney badges will no longer be accepted. Background checks are required on ALL individuals requesting an identification card. Any individual who does not have a valid identification card will be expected to enter the courthouse by going through the security screening lines. Please contact Susanne L. Dorsey, Second Lieutenant, Facility Security Section at 571-385-9798 with questions or see this link to obtain a new i.d. card.
• Important Information from the ABA Regarding Lawyers Who Accept Credit Card Transactions: The new IRS requirements regarding the reporting of credit card transactions have the potential to negatively impact IOLTA accounts and lead to ethical violations by lawyers. For more information about the new IRS Section 6050W, see this link. This information was provided to us by the ABA Commission on IOLTA. If you have questions, please direct them to Beverly Groudine, staff counsel to the Commission, Beverly.Groudine@americanbar.org.
• New Beneficiary Designation Notices To All Final Orders of Divorce: Beneficiary designations for any death benefit, as defined in subsection B of §20-111.1 of the Code of Virginia, made payable to a former spouse may or may not be automatically revoked by operation of law upon the entry of a final decree of annulment or divorce. If a party intends to revoke any beneficiary designation made payable to a former spouse following the annulment or divorce, the party is responsible for following any and all instructions to change such beneficiary designation given by the provider of the death benefit. Otherwise, existing beneficiary designations may remain in full force and effect after the entry of a final decree of annulment or divorce. Final Orders of Divorce that do not contain this language will start being rejected shortly.
Fairfax County Circuit Court
• To view the Circuit Court schedule as it relates to Grand Jury, Criminal Term Day, Interim Criminal Term Day, Civil Term Day, Holidays and Conferences for 2014, please click here.
• Circuit Court Clerk's Office Now on Twitter: The Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk's Office is proud to announce the launch of its Twitter Account. Follow @FFXCIRCUITCOURT to get alerts, news, schedule and fee changes and all other details to help you stay current with your Fairfax Circuit practice.
• Electronic Signatures on Pleadings: Pleadings filed with the Fairfax Circuit Court must have original signatures on each original document. We cannot accept pleadings with an electronic signature as an original document. Until the Circuit Court has an electronic filing system on the civil or criminal side of the court; original signatures are required on all pleadings.
• Divorce by Affidavit Requirements (§20-106): The Affidavits submitted in support of a divorce must include all of the information that would be presented in written depositions or ore tenus testimony. Each of the allegations of the Complaint/Counterclaim must be individually affirmed/verified by the affiants. The generic statement, “I affirm all of the allegations in the Complaint,” without more, will not be accepted by the Court.
Additionally, the witness must verify his or her personal knowledge that the parties have not cohabitated since the date of separation alleged in the complaint or counterclaim, and that it has been the moving party's intention since that date to remain separate and apart permanently. The Affidavit should contain statements describing how the witness acquired this personal knowledge. A statement, “I have personal knowledge that the parties have not cohabitated since the date of separation,” without any additional information about the source of the personal knowledge will not be accepted by the Court.
• Notice of Reopen or Reinstatement of Civil Cases: Any matters that have been finalized by a final order are deemed closed. If after 21 days you need to reopen the matter for further proceedings, a reinstatement fee is required to be paid at the time of filing your praecipe, notice or letter requesting to reinstate the case for a specific issue.
• Divorce/Domestic Cases - Virginia Code §20-107.3(K) states: "The court shall have the continuing authority and jurisdiction to make any additional orders necessary to effectuate and enforce any order pursuant to this section." The code may be found here.
• A reopen fee is required for cases that are being reopened 21 days after the entry of the final order.
• No reopen fee is required if the matter is being reopened within the 21 day period of the final order.
• Change to Rule 1:4: Effective January 1, 2013, every pleading, motion, or other paper served or filed shall contain at the foot the following information of the counsel of record submitting the document: Virginia State Bar number, office address, telephone number of counsel on record, and any electronic mail (E-mail) and Facsimile number regularly used for business purposes by counsel of record.
• Civil Contempt Proceeding for Failure to Pay Child Support in Accordance with Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S. ___ (2011): When the Court appoints an attorney to represent an indigent respondent in a civil contempt proceeding for failure to pay child support; the court order appointing counsel must state in the order that a finding by the court was made that the respondent is indigent and appoints counsel in accordance with Turner v. Rogers, 564 U.S. ___ (2011).
• Fairfax Circuit Court will accept VISA and MasterCard payments for civil filings. A convenience fee of 4% will be assessed.
• Notice of the New Circuit Court Procedure E-mail Policy: Don't like getting those postcards from law clerks? Here's one way to avoid them - provide the Court with your e-mail address. This will result in you being notified much more quickly of any problems in the content or form of Orders submitted for entry. Use of e-mail to notify attorneys is now in effect, but for this procedure to be used, the Court needs to have e-mail addresses for counsel on record or included on pleadings. The failure to provide a current e-mail address will result in the use of the old post card procedure. FYI: To memorialize the notice of the need to correct or make an addition, the clerks will print the sent e-mail and place it in the Court's file.
• This began as a pilot program with only five attorneys preparing their own summons. Effective, Monday, October 31, the program will be opening this option to attorneys in domestic cases. Please view the instructions on this Word doc and the following PDF forms: 21 Day Summons Form, Divorce 21 Day Summons Notary, and Divorce 21 Day Summons Sheriff Form.
• There are new forms online, including a new criminal plea form. Read this document for more details.
• Effective March 1, when filing any new civil action an additional copy of the initial pleading will be required (exceptions: concealed weapon permit and name change).
• The Court staff is running into issues and concerns with the List of Allowance form (a.k.a. DC 40 form). Please review this Word Doc that covers most common mistakes to ensure that the form is processed correctly.
• Circuit Court Announces Online Scheduling of Trial Dates: This project will allow attorneys to schedule domestic and non-domestic civil case trial dates - both jury and non-jury - without having to come to the courthouse. To obtain access, click on this link and go to "Online Services". Further details about the program can be found on this Word Document. To access the Online Scheduling System ("OSS") FAQ page click here.
• New Circuit Court Policy Change: The judges of the Circuit Court have decided to adopt a system for the appointment of guardians ad litem for infants in cases seeking the approval of an infant settlement and for minor beneficiaries in a case seeking approval of a wrongful death settlement which is similar to that in use in Loudoun County. More information on the policy is on this link.
Fairfax General District Court
• All motions involving felonies: All motions involving felonies, except bench warrant removals and bond motions, are to be filed in the Criminal Clerk’s Office of the General District Court at least two business days in advance, by 3:00 PM, with notice to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
• Revised 2014 Closing Schedule: Please find the Revised 2014 Closing Schedule for the Fairfax County General District Court here. The changes reflect additional closings for the Traffic Division and additional holidays for the Court.
• Blood Test Trial Docket: The General District Court has established a Blood Test Trial Docket for cases involving testimony from witnesses at the Division of Forensic Science. This docket is different than the regular Traffic Division docket and defense attorneys should keep the following in mind if your case is set on this docket
• Order of Nonsuit: The General District Court's civil praecipe (Request for Court Action) form may be used for requesting a nonsuit and contains language certifying that a copy has been sent to the defendant or defense counsel. If an order of nonsuit is submitted instead of the praecipe, then a Certificate of Mailing form or other written statement of notice must be included.
• Bond Motions and Blue Sheet: The blue defendant information sheets prepared by Court Services will be available in Courtroom 2G by no later than 8:15 AM each day for review by attorneys prior to 8:30 AM bond motions. The courtroom will be open at 8:00 AM daily to facilitate this review
• Interpreter Request Forms: The General District Court now has two separate forms for use when requesting an interpreter in Criminal/Traffic or Civil/Small Claims. All language interpreters must be requested in advance for a civil or small claims case. For traffic and criminal cases, Spanish interpreters are available daily (Korean and Vietnamese at the 9:30 AM dockets only) and do not have to be requested. Spanish interpreters are also scheduled daily for cases in the towns of Vienna and Herndon and in the City of Fairfax. The new forms are available in the divisional Clerk's Offices and in the Court Services Office in Room 203. The original copy should be submitted to Court Services and the second copy to the appropriate Clerk's Office. Both forms will be available on the General District Court website in the near future.
• Subpoena Duces Tecum: Documents, videos, and any other items produced in response to a subpoena duces tecum to the General District Court, which were not entered into evidence, will be returned to the provider or destroyed by order of the Court one year after the conclusion of the case.
• Restricted Driver's License - Suspension vs. Revocation: At a recent DMV training session, DMV explained that if a Restricted Driver's License (RDL) is requested and authorized on the date of a DWI conviction, DMV treats it as a suspension. If an RDL is requested and authorized at a later date, DMV treats it as a revocation and written and driving tests will be required before DMV will issue the RDL.
• Restricted Driver's License Application Form: When completing the Application for RDL (DC-263), attorneys are asked to highlight section (f-1) and request that the judge note whether Ignition Interlock is required (Yes, No, or Yes, on each vehicle owned by the defendant). Please also ensure all other restrictions requested are "checked" on the form and that addresses for employers, schools, medical providers, churches, and other locations are identified with the complete name of the employer, office, or building, and that the address includes building number, street address and city and state. Incomplete applications result in delays in processing. The current form is available at www.courts.state.va.us under Forms.
• Felony Court Appointed List: Pursuant to §19.2-159, a list of court appointed attorneys is maintained by the Fairfax General District Court (GDC) to supplement the Public Defender's Office and to ensure competent representation is available in all criminal cases.
• The GDC's Felony Court Appointed System has been recently reconfigured into two tiers - regular felonies and more serious felonies. Serious felony appointments involve cases charged as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated malicious wounding.
• If you are currently on the felony court appointed list and would like to be considered for appointment to serious felony cases, please send a letter outlining your experience and qualifications to Judge Penney S. Azcarate at the Fairfax County General District Court. Please specify if you wish to be appointed to both regular and serious felonies or only serious felonies. If you wish to stay on the list accepting regular felony appointments only, no action is required.
• Writ of Fieri Facias: Attorneys are asked to complete the name and address information in the service return boxes provided on the left portion of the Writ of Fieri Facias form. This will help clarify who is to be served.
• Garnishment Order for Payment (GDC Civil): If a garnishee sends funds directly to the judgment creditor rather than filing a written answer or submitting a check through the court, counsel for the judgment creditor is still expected to file an order for payment on the Garnishment Disposition form for the amount collected. The order should recite that the clerk should not forward the order to the garnishee because payment has already been received. This will protect all parties and assist the General District Court to track payments. Currently, a few attorneys are simply asking that a garnishment be marked satisfied when funds have been received directly from the garnishee prior to the return date. This is not considered a best practice.
• Waiver of Defendant's Appearance on Reckless by Speed Case: In the Fairfax County General District Court, a prior motion is not required in order to request a waiver of the defendant's appearance in "Reckless by Speed" cases provided the speed is less than 90 mph and the attorney files a written authority or authorization, signed by the defendant. When deemed appropriate, a judge may still require the defendant to be present and may continue the case for this purpose. The presumption is that the attorney has reviewed the case and it is unlikely that a jail sentence will be imposed or that the sentence will result in a substantial period of driver's license suspension. This policy is only as to cases of reckless driving by speed.
• Restricted License: When a Restricted Driver's License (RDL) is issued by the General District Court, a Virginia-licensed driver must wait 30 days, but no longer than 60 days, to obtain an official restricted license from DMV. Once they have received the plastic DMV-issued RDL, the driver must continue to carry the Court-issued (paper) version because it lists the specific restrictions and will be required if they are ever stopped by a police officer. Out-of-state drivers must also continue to carry the Court-issued RDL along with their regular state driver's license.
• The General District Court's Administrative Procedures have been recently updated and are available online at this link. Printed copies may be obtained in Room 210 and in the Clerk's Offices on the first and second floor of the Courthouse
• Attorneys are asked to refrain from using cell phones while inside the General District Court Divisions. The Clerk's Offices are often crowded and cell phone conversation only add to the noise.
• The General District Court has released a list of reminders on the following topics: Lengthy Civil Trials, Restricted Driver's License, Bond Reduction Motions, Subpoena Duces Tecum, Continuance of Criminal Cases and Protective Order, Preliminary Hearings, and Court Appointed Payment on Refusal Charge
• Go here to see the announcements regarding a new credit card processing fee and a reminder on DWI cases.
• Defense counsel must file a copy of their appearance praecipes, in DWI/DUI cases, with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and file a copy of a change of address praecipe in all cases whenever there is a change in address, phone number or facsimile number.
• In Felonies, Class 1 misdemeanors, Class 2 misdemeanors, and DWI/DUI cases defense counsel are reminded to please provide the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office with a copy of their Appearance Praecipe.
• If an interpreter other than Spanish is needed for an 8:30 AM bond reduction motion in the General District Court, attorneys should notify the clerk in the Criminal or Traffic Division at the time the motion is filed, as well as the Court Services Division in Room 203. Spanish interpreters are available daily for the 8:30am dockets, but other languages must be scheduled. Failure to provide advance notice of the need for an interpreter may result in delay or the continuance of the motion to another day.
• Writ of Possession & Reservation: The newest edition of the Writ of Possession form (updated 10/07) contains a checkbox for the plaintiff to indicate that no rent has been accepted without a letter of reservation. If this form is used and the box is checked, then the General District Court will no longer require a letter stating no rent has been accepted without reservation when filing the Writ of Possession. If the older form without the checkbox is used, the letter or reservation should be attached.
• Social Security Number on Garnishment: Many government agencies and financial institutions are now requiring the judgment debtor’s social security number before they will respond as the garnishee on a Garnishment Summons. The General District Court recommends the social security number be furnished on all future Garnishment filings.
• Small Claims Removals: Removals from Small Claims Court to GDC Civil will no longer be pulled and processed prior to the Small Claims court date. Instead, the Removal will be attached to the file and the case will go into court on its scheduled Friday. This will allow the parties to select their trial date in GDC Civil and the judge to order pleadings, as requested.
Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court
Supreme Court of Virginia News
The Justices of the Supreme Court of Virginia have determined that certain costs in cases filled by court-appointed counsel or cases filed pursuant to indigent status will not be reimbursed. The costs affected by this decision are those incurred when using a vendor to print, copy, bind, and serve the following documents:
Petition of Appeal
This policy applies to the above-referenced documents filed July 1, 2012 and thereafter. (Note: Rules 5:4, 5:6, 5:7, 5:7A, 5:7B, 5:17, 5:17A, 5:18, 5:19, and 5:20 do not require that such documents have a binding. Instead, they are acceptable if stapled.)