In a major change to civil practice and procedure in Virginia, the Virginia Court of Appeals is now accepting appeals as “a matter of right.” Previously, the Court of Appeals only had jurisdiction over criminal cases and limited types of civil cases. In the past, a litigant wishing to appeal a decision from a state circuit court had to petition the Supreme Court of Virginia, which had the discretion to deny the appeal. As of January 1, 2022, a litigant may automatically appeal any civil case from a circuit court to the Court of Appels. This is a huge change for civil litigation practice in Virginia and the volume of appeals is expected to grow substantially.
In order to handle the higher volume of appeals, the Court of Appeals was expanded from 11 judges to 17 judges. Currently, the Court does not have a building sufficiently large enough to seat the full court. The Court will hear appeal cases through panels of three judges, unless they need to sit en banc in another location. Attorneys arguing cases before the Court may not know their panel of judges until the morning of oral argument. They should expect a diverse panel. The judges come from different geographic locations, backgrounds and practice areas, and include former prosecutors, public defenders, insurance counsel, family law and business lawyers.
Michael Campbell is a litigation attorney at Miller, Miller & Canby, licensed to practice in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. He is currently defending an appeal from Fairfax County Circuit Court to the Virginia Court of Appeals. Learn more about Miller, Miller & Canby’s Appellate Practice and Representative Cases by clicking here.