Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 16.1. Courts Not of Record
Chapter 4.1. District Courts
12/5/2022

Article 4. Judges and Personnel of the District Courts.

§ 16.1-69.37. Personnel continued in office.

The clerks, deputy clerks, referees, bailiffs and other officers and employees of county, municipal and juvenile and domestic relations courts shall continue in office in like positions with the general district courts and juvenile and domestic relations district courts until the expiration of the term, if any, for which elected or appointed. Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to effect or authorize any reduction in the compensation of any such officer or employee during such term.

1972, c. 708; 1973, c. 546.

§ 16.1-69.38. Authorization for substitute judges and personnel.

The Committee on District Courts established in § 16.1-69.33 shall, subject to the provision of § 16.1-69.37, establish guidelines and determine the necessity for the employment of substitute judges, clerks, deputy clerks and all other personnel of the district courts and authorize the employment of such personnel by the courts. For purposes of this chapter, the term "personnel," as related to the courts, shall not include probation officers and other social service officers of a juvenile and domestic relations district court. The Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court shall obtain pertinent personnel policies of local units of government as to personnel of courts not of record who become employees of district courts pursuant to this chapter, and he shall assist the Committee in the performance of its duties. The Committee may receive the advice and recommendations of the Executive Secretary with respect to authorization of personnel for the district courts, job classifications, salary scales, vacation and sick leave and related personnel matters.

The Committee may authorize the appointment of any personnel to serve one or more district courts within any district and in addition may authorize the clerk and deputy clerks of the circuit court of a political subdivision to serve as clerk and deputy clerks of one or more district courts within the political subdivision.

1972, c. 708; 1973, c. 546.

§ 16.1-69.39. Appointment of personnel.

All personnel shall be appointed by, serve at the pleasure of, and be subject to removal by the chief judge of the district court in which they serve. In the event of any personnel authorized to serve in both a general district court and juvenile and domestic relations district court within any district, appointments and removals shall be made by the chief judges of such courts and in the event of a tie vote on any such matter the chief judges of the district shall certify such fact to the Committee on District Courts who shall decide the matter. The provisions of this section shall not be applicable in the event of authorization for any deputy circuit court clerk or deputy clerk to serve any district court. Personnel subject to the provisions of this article shall not be subject to the Virginia Personnel Act (§ 2.2-2900 et seq.).

1972, c. 708; 1973, c. 546; 1975, c. 334.

§ 16.1-69.39:1. Legal service to district court employees and magistrates.

All legal services for personnel of the district courts or magistrates in civil matters, including civil litigation, arising out of the performance of their duties, shall be provided by the office of the Attorney General. If, in the opinion of the Attorney General, it is impractical or uneconomical for such service to be rendered by his office, the Committee on District Courts may employ special counsel for such purpose, whose compensation shall be fixed by the Committee. The compensation for such special counsel shall be paid out of the funds appropriated for the administration of the district courts.

1977, c. 94; 1980, c. 197.

§ 16.1-69.40. Powers and duties of clerks; civil liability.

The clerk and deputy clerks shall be conservators of the peace within the territory for which the court has jurisdiction, and may, within such judicial district, issue warrants, detention orders, and other processes, original, mesne and final, both civil and criminal, commit to jail or other detention facility, or admit to bail upon recognizance, persons charged with crimes or before the court on civil petition, subject to the limitations set forth by law, and issue subpoenas for witnesses, writs of fieri facias and writs of possession and eviction, attachments and garnishments and abstracts of judgments. A record made in the performance of the clerk's official duties may be authenticated as a true copy by the clerk or by a deputy clerk without additional authentication by the judge to whom the clerk reports, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection B of § 8.01-391.

No clerk or deputy clerk shall issue any warrant or process based on complaint of his spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, parent-in-law, child-in-law, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, first cousin, guardian or ward. They may take affidavits and administer oaths and affirmations, take and certify depositions in the same manner as a notary public, perform such other notarial acts as allowed under § 47.1-12, take acknowledgments to deeds or other writings for purposes of recordation, and issue all other legal processes which may be issued by the judge of such court and exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as are conferred or imposed upon them by law. The clerk may also issue to interested persons informational brochures authorized by a judge of such court explaining the legal rights of such persons.

No clerk or deputy clerk shall be civilly liable for providing information or assistance that is within the scope of his duties.

The clerk shall develop, implement and administer procedures necessary for the efficient operation of the clerk's office, keep the records and accounts of the court, supervise nonjudicial personnel and discharge such other duties as may be prescribed by the judge.

1972, c. 708; 1973, c. 546; 1974, c. 671; 1978, c. 463; 1983, c. 135; 1985, c. 99; 1989, c. 229; 2001, cc. 488, 499; 2019, cc. 180, 700.

§ 16.1-69.40:1. Traffic infractions within authority of traffic violations clerk; schedule of fines; prepayment of local ordinances.

A. The Supreme Court shall by rule, which may from time to time be amended, supplemented or repealed, but which shall be uniform in its application throughout the Commonwealth, designate the traffic infractions for which a pretrial waiver of appearance, plea of guilty and fine payment may be accepted. Such designated infractions shall include violations of §§ 46.2-830.1, 46.2-878.2 and 46.2-1242 or any parallel local ordinances. Notwithstanding any rule of the Supreme Court, a person charged with a traffic offense that is listed as prepayable in the Uniform Fine Schedule may prepay his fines and costs without court appearance whether or not he was involved in an accident. The prepayable fine amount for a violation of § 46.2-878.2 shall be $200 plus an amount per mile-per-hour in excess of posted speed limits, as authorized in § 46.2-878.3.

Such infractions shall not include:

1. Indictable offenses;

2. [Repealed.]

3. Operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic or habit-producing drug, or permitting another person, who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic or habit-producing drug, to operate a motor vehicle owned by the defendant or in his custody or control;

4. Reckless driving;

5. Leaving the scene of an accident;

6. Driving while under suspension or revocation of driving privileges;

7. Driving without being licensed to drive.

8. [Repealed.]

B. An appearance may be made in person or in writing by mail to a clerk of court or in person before a magistrate, prior to any date fixed for trial in court. Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial and a plea of guilty and pay the fine and any civil penalties established for the offense charged, with costs. He shall, prior to the plea, waiver, and payment, be informed of his right to stand trial, that his signature to a plea of guilty will have the same force and effect as a judgment of court, and that the record of conviction will be sent to the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

C. The Supreme Court, upon the recommendation of the Committee on District Courts, shall establish a schedule, within the limits prescribed by law, of the amounts of fines and any civil penalties to be imposed, designating each infraction specifically. The schedule, which may from time to time be amended, supplemented or repealed, shall be uniform in its application throughout the Commonwealth. Such schedule shall not be construed or interpreted so as to limit the discretion of any trial judge trying individual cases at the time fixed for trial. The rule of the Supreme Court establishing the schedule shall be prominently posted in the place where the fines are paid. Fines and costs shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of this Code or any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.

D. Fines imposed under local traffic infraction ordinances that do not parallel provisions of state law and fulfill the criteria set out in subsection A may be prepayable in the manner set forth in subsection B if such ordinances appear in a schedule entered by order of the local circuit courts. The chief judge of each circuit may establish a schedule of the fines, within the limits prescribed by local ordinances, to be imposed for prepayment of local ordinances designating each offense specifically. Upon the entry of such order it shall be forwarded within 10 days to the Supreme Court of Virginia by the clerk of the local circuit court. The schedule, which from time to time may be amended, supplemented or repealed, shall be uniform in its application throughout the circuit. Such schedule shall not be construed or interpreted so as to limit the discretion of any trial judge trying individual cases at the time fixed for trial. This schedule shall be prominently posted in the place where fines are paid. Fines and costs shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of this Code or any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.

1977, c. 585; 1978, c. 605; 1979, c. 510; 1983, c. 388; 1994, c. 912; 1998, c. 209; 2000, c. 841; 2003, c. 282; 2004, c. 350; 2011, c. 694; 2017, c. 504; 2020, cc. 1227, 1246.

§ 16.1-69.40:2. Nontraffic offenses for which prepayment authorized; schedules, fines; prepayment of local ordinances.

A. The Supreme Court shall by rule, which may from time to time be amended, supplemented or repealed, but which shall be uniform in its application throughout the Commonwealth, designate the nontraffic offenses for which a pretrial waiver of appearance, plea of guilty and fine payment may be accepted. Such offenses shall not include:

1. Indictable offenses;

2. Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanors;

3. Offenses which involve moral turpitude;

4. Any offenses involving injury to persons;

5. Any offense punishable by incarceration or by a fine of more than $500.

B. An appearance may be made in person or in writing by mail to a clerk of court or in person before a magistrate, prior to any date fixed for trial in court. Any person so appearing may enter a waiver of trial and plea of guilty and pay the fine established for the offense charged, with costs. He shall, prior to the plea, waiver and payment, be informed of his right to stand trial and that his signature to a plea of guilty will have the same force and effect as a judgment of court.

C. The Supreme Court, upon the recommendation of the Committee on District Courts, shall establish a schedule, within the limits prescribed by law, of the amounts of fines to be imposed upon prepayment of nontraffic offenses authorized as prepayable under subsection A, designating each offense specifically. The schedule, which may from time to time be amended, supplemented or repealed, shall be uniform in its application throughout the Commonwealth. Such schedule shall not be construed or interpreted so as to limit the discretion of any trial judge trying individual cases at the time fixed for trial. The Rule of the Court establishing the schedule shall be prominently posted in the place where the fines are paid. Fines and costs shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of this Code or any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.

D. Local ordinances fulfilling the criteria set out in subsection A may be prepayable in a like manner if such ordinances appear in a schedule entered by order of the local circuit courts. The chief judge of each circuit may establish a schedule of the fines, within the limits prescribed by local ordinances to be imposed for prepayment of local ordinances designating each offense specifically. Upon the entry of such order it shall be forwarded within 10 days to the Supreme Court of Virginia by the clerk of the local circuit court. The schedule, which may from time to time be amended, supplemented or repealed, shall be uniform in its application throughout the circuit. Such schedule shall not be construed or interpreted so as to limit the discretion of any trial judge trying individual cases at the time fixed for trial. This schedule shall be prominently posted in the place where the fines are paid. Fines and costs shall be paid in accordance with the provisions of this Code or any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.

1978, c. 605; 1989, c. 421; 2011, c. 694.

§ 16.1-69.40:3. Financial responsibilities of judges and clerks.

The judge of each district court shall have management responsibility over the collection and distribution of all funds received by such court; provided, however, that no judge or clerk shall incur personal liability for a shortage in such funds unless such shortage is a result of his negligence, failure to exercise appropriate supervision or intentional misconduct.

1979, c. 511.

§ 16.1-69.41. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1974, c. 3.

§ 16.1-69.42. Clerk when authorized by judge may execute appeal bonds; may make out and attest transcripts.

The clerk of a district court may, when authorized so to do by the judge of the court he serves, execute appeal bonds in appeals from judgment of the court. Any such clerk may make out and attest transcripts of the papers and records of the court for use in evidence elsewhere.

1972, c. 708; 1973, c. 546.

§ 16.1-69.43. Judge before whom accused was arraigned may hear case on merits; judge who has heard part of case may hear case to conclusion.

No rule shall hereafter be promulgated under the limitations of § 8.01-4 or otherwise, which would avoid or preclude the judge before whom an accused is arraigned in criminal cases from hearing all aspects of the case on its merits, or to avoid or preclude any judge in any case who has heard any part of the case on its merits, from hearing the case to its conclusion; provided, however, another judge may hear portions of a case where a judge is required to disqualify himself, in cases in which a mistrial is declared, or in cases which have been reversed on appeal, or in the event of sickness, disability or vacation of the judge. The parties to any suit, action, cause or prosecution may waive the provisions of this section. Such waiver shall be entered of record.

1973, c. 546.