Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 17.1. Courts of Record
6/1/2020

Article 2. Other Clerks and Clerks' Offices.

§ 17.1-206. Where offices to be located.

The clerk's office of every circuit court, or any division thereof, of any county or city shall be kept at the courthouse of such county or city, unless there is a failure by the proper authorities to provide an office there, in which case the clerk's office may be kept at such other place within the county or city as the court may direct. However, nothing in this section shall prohibit the establishment of a clerk's office satellite facility or annex which is not located at the courthouse; provided that recording of all land records, docketing of all monetary judgments, filing of U.C.C. financing statements, and filing of matters at law and in equity shall be conducted at the courthouse location. All expenses related to the establishment and operation of a satellite facility or annex shall be the responsibility of the locality.

Code 1919, § 3385, § 17-40; 1938, p. 132; 1973, c. 406; 1997, c. 325; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-207. Days of operation of clerks' offices.

A. The clerk's office of every court shall be kept open on every day except Saturday, except as provided in subsection B, and Sunday, and the days provided for in § 2.2-3300, for the transaction of business; provided that:

1. The clerk's office of the circuit court of any county or city may be closed on any day which is established as a general holiday for the employees of such county or city by a resolution duly adopted by the governing body of such county or city and approved by the judge or judges of the circuit court and filed in the office of the clerk; provided that such general holiday shall have the same force and effect as a legal holiday as set forth in subsection B of § 1-210;

2. The judge or judges of any circuit court in any county or city may authorize the clerk of such court to close the clerk's office on Christmas Eve; provided that the closing of any clerk's office as provided by this subdivision shall have the same force and effect as a legal holiday as set forth in subsection B of § 1-210;

3. The chief judge or presiding judge of any circuit court may authorize the clerk of the court to close the clerk's office on any day when the chief judge or presiding judge determines that operation of the clerk's office, under prevailing conditions, would constitute a threat to the health and safety of the clerk's office personnel or the general public. Closing of the clerk's office pursuant to this subdivision shall have the same effect as provided in subsection B of § 1-210;

4. The judge or judges of the circuit court of any county or city may authorize the clerk of such court to close the clerk's office on any day or portion of a day which the Governor declares as a holiday for state employees, or on any day or portion of a day on which the Governor authorizes state offices to be closed; provided that such closing of any clerk's office shall have the same force and effect as a legal holiday as set forth in subsection B of § 1-210.

Except for closings pursuant to subdivision 3, whenever the authorization of the judge is necessary to close a clerk's office and a court has more than one judge, the authorization of all such judges shall be necessary.

The judge of the circuit court of any county or city may require the clerk's office to be kept open continuously for the transaction of business during convenient hours on all the days on which it is required by this section to be kept open.

B. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the clerk, with the approval of the chief judge, to open the clerk's office on Saturdays, during such hours as the chief judge may authorize, solely for the purposes of (i) permitting examination and copying of court records, (ii) accepting applications for and granting licenses pursuant to applicable law, and (iii) recording instruments. For all other purposes, including without limitation the filing of actions at law and suits in equity and all pleadings, pleas and motions therein, such clerk's office shall be closed with the force and effect of a statutory closing as provided in subsection B of § 1-210.

Code 1919, § 3388, § 17-41; 1920, p. 242; 1930, p. 353; 1936, p. 16; 1942, p. 242; 1944, p. 39; 1946, p. 55; 1947, p. 95; 1950, p. 1166; 1952, c. 434; 1954, c. 304; 1956, c. 24; 1959, Ex. Sess., c. 64; 1960, cc. 25, 482; 1962, c. 409; 1966, c. 250; 1970, c. 61; 1972, c. 128; 1974, cc. 279, 569; 1986, c. 166; 1993, c. 429; 1996, cc. 588, 592; 1998, c. 872; 2000, cc. 412, 444; 2001, c. 287; 2005, c. 839.

§ 17.1-208. Records, etc., open to inspection; copies; exception.

A. For the purposes of this section, "confidential court records," "court records," and "nonconfidential court records" shall have the same meaning as set forth in § 17.1-292.

B. Except as otherwise provided by law, any records that are maintained by the clerks of the circuit courts shall be open to inspection in the office of the clerk by any person and the clerk shall, when requested, furnish copies thereof subject to any reasonable fee charged by the clerk pursuant to § 17.1-275. No person shall be permitted to use the clerk's office for the purpose of making copies of records in such manner, or to such extent, as will, in the determination of the clerk, interfere with the business of the office or with its reasonable use by the general public. The certificate of the clerk to copies furnished by the clerk shall, if the paper copied be recorded in a bound volume, contain the name and number of the volume and the page or folio at which the recordation of the paper begins, or the instrument number as applicable, and the clerk may charge a fee therefor pursuant to § 17.1-275. The certificate of the circuit court clerk to such copies may be provided electronically subject to the provisions of § 17.1-258.3:2. Such electronic certificate may reference an instrument number, bound volume, or other case number, but is not required to do so.

C. Requests for copies of nonconfidential court records maintained in individual case files shall be made to the clerk of the circuit court.

D. Requests for reports of aggregated, nonconfidential case data fields that are viewable through the online case information systems maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court shall be made to the Office of the Executive Secretary. Such reports of aggregated case data shall not include the name, date of birth, or social security number of any party, and shall not include images of the individual records in the respective case files. However, nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any reports of aggregated case data to be sold or posted on any other website or in any way redistributed to any third party. The clerk or the Executive Secretary, in his discretion, may deny such request to ensure compliance with these provisions. However, such data may be included in products or services provided to a third party, provided that such data is not made available to the general public.

E. Any clerk or the Executive Secretary, as applicable, may require that the request be in writing and that the requester provide his name and legal address. A request for nonconfidential court records or reports of aggregated, nonconfidential case data shall identify the requested records with reasonable specificity. Any clerk or the Executive Secretary, as applicable, may determine the costs for providing the requested records to the requester, advise the requester of such costs, and, before continuing to process the request, require the requester to agree to payment of a deposit not to exceed the amount of the advance determination, which shall be credited to the final cost of supplying the requested records. Neither a clerk nor the Executive Secretary shall be required to create a new record if the record does not already exist or provide a report of aggregated, nonconfidential case data in a format not regularly used by the clerk or the Executive Secretary; however, a clerk or the Executive Secretary, as applicable, may abstract or summarize information under such terms and conditions as agreed to by the requester and the clerk or Executive Secretary, as provided herein.

F. Except as otherwise provided by law, the requested court records or reports of aggregated, nonconfidential case data shall be provided to the requester within a reasonable period of time, given the nature of the request and the availability of staff to respond to the request, but in no event longer than 30 days from the date of a complete request made by a requester that is fully compliant with the requirements of this section and other applicable law. Any objection or assertion of confidentiality shall be provided to the requester within a reasonable period of time, but in no event longer than 30 days from the date of a complete request made by a requester.

G. Any clerk or the Executive Secretary may require payment in advance of all reasonable costs, not to exceed the actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, reviewing, supplying, or searching for the requested court records or reports of aggregated, nonconfidential case data, including removing any confidential information contained in the court records from the nonconfidential court records being provided, excluding any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general overhead costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the clerk or the Office of the Executive Secretary. Before processing a request for court records or reports of aggregated, nonconfidential case data, any clerk or the Executive Secretary may require the requester to pay any amounts owed to the clerk or the Office of the Executive Secretary for previous requests for court records or reports of aggregated, nonconfidential case data that remain unpaid 30 days or more after billing.

H. Any clerk and the Executive Secretary shall be immune from any suit arising from the production of court records or reports of aggregated, nonconfidential case data in accordance with this section absent gross negligence or willful misconduct.

I. Nothing in this section shall be construed to apply to court records transferred to the Library of Virginia for permanent archiving pursuant to the duties imposed by the Virginia Public Records Act (§ 42.1-76 et seq.). In accordance with § 42.1-79, the Library of Virginia shall be the custodian of such permanently archived records and shall be responsible for responding to requests for such records.

Code 1919, § 3388, § 17-43; 1920, p. 242; 1930, p. 353; 1936, p. 17; 1942, p. 242; 1944, p. 40; 1946, p. 56; 1947, p. 96; 1952, c. 286; 1998, c. 872; 2002, c. 299; 2007, cc. 548, 626; 2013, c. 77; 2015, c. 641; 2018, cc. 127, 584.

§ 17.1-209. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2012, c. 802, cl. 2.

§ 17.1-210. Removal of records or papers prohibited; exceptions.

None of the records or papers of a circuit court shall be removed by the clerk nor allowed by him to be removed out of the county or city wherein the clerk's office is kept, except: (i) on the order of the court or judge; (ii) the clerk, court or judge may allow the records and papers of a pending case to be removed by an attorney of record in that case to any location within the Commonwealth unless the court or judge shall enter an order prohibiting the removal of such records or paper; (iii) on an occasion of invasion or insurrection, when, in the opinion of the court, or, in a very sudden case, of the clerk, the same will be endangered, after which they shall be returned as soon as the danger ceases; and (iv) in such other cases as are specially provided for by law.

Code 1919, § 3387, § 17-45; 1973, c. 54; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-211. Maintenance and disposition of certain receipt books, cancelled checks and statements.

The clerk of each court of record shall maintain in his office all official receipt books showing receipt of any funds in his custody or that of the court, all canceled checks showing payments from any such funds, and all statements of bank accounts in which funds of the clerk's office or of the court are deposited. Such books, checks and statements shall be maintained until they have been audited by the Auditor of Public Accounts, and for a further period of three years, in the case of receipt books, canceled checks, and bank statements. Thereafter, the clerk may destroy such records in accordance with retention regulations for records maintained by the clerk established under the Virginia Public Records Act (§ 42.1-76 et seq.).

1962, c. 445, § 17-46.1; 1981, c. 637; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-212. Copying of records becoming illegible.

The judge or, if so designated by the judge, the clerk of each court of record, when satisfied that the records and papers in the office of the clerk of court are becoming illegible or are wearing out and is of the opinion that the same should be preserved, may order the records and papers copied or photographed or otherwise duplicated at the expense of the county or city in which the clerk's office is located.

The copies of the records and papers shall be examined and compared by the clerk with the originals and when he is satisfied that the copies are exact he shall certify them as true copies. The certified copies shall be kept in the same place in which the originals are kept and the latter shall continue to be carefully preserved.

1944, p. 195, § 17-47; Michie Suppl. 1946, § 3387a; 1997, c. 836; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-213. Disposition of papers in ended cases.

A. All case files for cases ended prior to January 1, 1913, shall be permanently maintained in hardcopy form, either in the locality served by the circuit court where such files originated or in The Library of Virginia in accordance with the provisions of § 42.1-86 and subsection C of § 42.1-87.

B. The following records for cases ending on or after January 1, 1913, shall be retained for 10 years after conclusion:

1. Conditional sales contracts;

2. Concealed weapons permit applications;

3. Minister appointments;

4. Petitions for appointment of trustee;

5. Name changes;

6. Nolle prosequi cases;

7. Civil actions that are voluntarily dismissed, including nonsuits, cases that are dismissed as settled and agreed, cases that are dismissed with or without prejudice, cases that are discontinued or dismissed under § 8.01-335, and district court appeals dismissed under § 16.1-113 prior to 1988;

8. Misdemeanor and traffic cases, except as provided in subdivision C 3, including those which were commenced on a felony charge but concluded as a misdemeanor;

9. Suits to enforce a lien;

10. Garnishments;

11. Executions except for those covered in § 8.01-484;

12. Miscellaneous oaths and qualifications, but only if the order or oath or qualification is spread in the appropriate order book; and

13. Civil cases pertaining to declarations of habitual offender status and full restoration of driving privileges.

C. All other records or cases ending on or after January 1, 1913, shall be retained subject to the following:

1. All civil case files to which subsection D does not pertain shall be retained 20 years from the court order date.

2. All criminal cases dismissed, including those not a true bill, acquittals, and not guilty verdicts, shall be retained 10 years from the court order date.

3. Except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, criminal case files involving a felony conviction and all criminal case files involving a misdemeanor conviction under § 16.1-253.2, 18.2-57.2, or 18.2-60.4 shall be retained (i) 20 years from the sentencing date or (ii) until the sentence term ends, whichever comes later. Case files involving a conviction for a sexually violent offense as defined in § 37.2-900, a violent felony as defined in § 17.1-805, or an act of violence as defined in § 19.2-297.1 shall be retained (a) 50 years from the sentencing date or (b) until the sentence term ends, whichever comes later.

D. Under the provisions of subsections B and C, the entire file of any case deemed by the local clerk of court to have historical value, as defined in § 42.1-77, or genealogical or sensational significance shall be retained permanently as shall all cases in which the title to real estate is established, conveyed or condemned by an order or decree of the court. The final order for all cases in which the title to real estate is so affected shall include an appropriate notification thereof to the clerk.

E. Except as provided in subsection A, the clerk of a circuit court may cause (i) any or all papers or documents pertaining to civil and criminal cases; (ii) any unexecuted search warrants and affidavits for unexecuted search warrants, provided at least three years have passed since issued; (iii) any abstracts of judgments; and (iv) original wills, to be destroyed if such records, papers, documents, or wills no longer have administrative, fiscal, historical, or legal value to warrant continued retention, provided such records, papers, or documents have been microfilmed or converted to an electronic format. Such microfilm and microphotographic processes and equipment shall meet state archival microfilm standards pursuant to § 42.1-82, or such electronic format shall follow state electronic records guidelines, and such records, papers, or documents so converted shall be placed in conveniently accessible files and provisions made for examining and using same. The clerk shall further provide security negative copies of any such microfilmed materials for storage in The Library of Virginia.

1981, c. 637, § 17-47.4; 1989, c. 445; 1990, c. 583; 1994, cc. 64, 822; 1997, c. 561; 1998, c. 872; 2001, c. 836; 2002, c. 832; 2004, c. 433; 2005, c. 681; 2006, c. 60; 2008, c. 749; 2011, cc. 445, 480; 2012, c. 802; 2015, c. 552; 2016, c. 180.

§ 17.1-214. Clerk to deliver or send process to sheriff.

The clerk of the circuit court from whose office may be issued any process, original, mesne or final, or any order or decree to be served on any person, shall, unless the party interested, or his attorney, direct otherwise, deliver the same to the sheriff of the county or city for which the court is held, if it is to be executed therein, and if it is to be executed in any other county or city, shall enclose the same to the sheriff thereof, properly addressed, put it in the post office and pay the postage thereon.

Code 1919, § 3403, § 17-50; 1946, p. 54; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-215. Process book.

The clerk of a circuit court shall keep a process book or file or, in lieu thereof, an automated system, in which the clerk shall enter every such process, order or decree, showing its nature, date, return day and the person to whom, and the time when, it was delivered, or, if it was mailed, the time thereof and the person to whom it was addressed. From any officer, to whom there is such delivery, the clerk shall take a receipt in the process book or file or enter the receipt on the automated system.

Code 1919, § 3403, § 17-51; 1946, p. 54; 1989, c. 137; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-216. Handling fee for service of process.

The fee for serving such process, order or decree may be delivered to the clerk, who shall transmit it with the papers to be served to the sheriff and the fee paid shall be taxed by the clerk as a part of the costs of the proceeding.

Code 1919, § 3403, § 17-52; 1946, p. 55; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-217. Power of clerk to administer oath.

Any clerk of a court may administer an oath in any case wherein an affidavit is necessary or proper as the foundation of an official act to be performed by him.

Code 1919, § 3389, § 17-53; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-218. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2011, c. 63, cl. 1.

§ 17.1-219. Clerk to prepare bonds.

Every clerk of a court of record shall prepare, in a proper manner, any bond to be taken by, or given before, him or his court or the judge thereof.

Code 1919, § 3390, § 17-55; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-219.1. Transportation orders; authorization for clerk to issue orders to custodian.

In a criminal proceeding, upon authorization by the judge, the clerk of a circuit court may issue orders for commitment of the defendant or orders for release of the defendant to the appropriate custodian when the judge has ordered the defendant (i) to be committed to custody upon a denial of bail, upon a revocation of bail or upon a change in bail condition, (ii) to be continued in custody upon a continuance of the proceeding, or (iii) to be released upon meeting bail requirements, upon being sentenced to time already served or upon being found not guilty.

2002, c. 832.

§ 17.1-220. Duplicate certificate of allowance prohibited, unless ordered by court.

Upon proof by the oath of a party or otherwise of the loss or destruction of an original certificate of any allowance to be paid out of the state treasury, the court shall order a duplicate which shall show on its face that it is a duplicate issued by order of the court.

Code 1919, § 3404, § 17-56; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-221. Reports by clerks of the business of courts of record.

The clerk of each court of record in this Commonwealth, including the clerk of the Court of Appeals, within fifteen days from the end of each calendar month, shall make to the Supreme Court a report of the business disposed of by his court during the month just ended. The report shall be made upon a form furnished by the Executive Secretary and shall contain such information as the Supreme Court deems proper to enable it to gain a fair knowledge of the business of the several courts of the Commonwealth.

The reports shall be filed in the office of the Executive Secretary and the General Assembly or any other body or officer of this Commonwealth shall have access thereto.

Code 1919, § 3405, § 17-57; 1928, p. 1121; 1938, p. 129; 1944, p. 131; 1964, c. 10; 1984, c. 703; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-222. Failure to make report.

The Executive Secretary, at the direction of the Court, shall report every clerk who fails to make the report mentioned in § 17.1-221 to the chief judge of the clerk's court.

Code 1919, § 3406, § 17-58; 1938, p. 130; 1964, c. 10; 1998, c. 872.

§ 17.1-222.1. Collection of fees, etc., by court clerks in lieu of money.

The clerks of the several courts of the Commonwealth may, in lieu of money, collect or secure all fees, and fines and penalties collected for offenses committed against the Commonwealth or against any county, city or town, and for payment of spousal or child support, by any means provided in § 2.2-614.1. Such clerks shall not by virtue of acceptance of any such payment be held to be guarantors of the payment thereof, but they shall exercise ordinary care in such acceptance.

1977, c. 139, § 14.1-3.1; 1978, c. 117; 1998, c. 872; 2002, c. 719.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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