Virginia Court Records
The state of Virginia has a complex and interesting judicial system that includes many courts: the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, District Courts, and Virginia Magistrates. Each branch of this system produces documentation of its court proceedings which are later turned into publically accessible court records
Until recently, court records were stored in paper form or on microfilm in law libraries and the courthouses of record. To obtain a court record would mean appearing in person to make your request during business hours and having to travel between locations to find multiple types of court documents. Fortunately this is no longer the case for Virginia court records, due to the increasing capabilities of digital storage and accessibility of the Internet; court records are readily available to the public and legal professionals alike.
History of Virginia Court Records
At the close of the Revolutionary War, the General Assembly of Virginia created four Superior Courts, which included the Supreme Court of Appeals. This newly formed court formed a model for the early United States Supreme Court. Until 1788, the justices were not required to record written opinions, and it was Thomas Jefferson who first began to insist that the records be kept for each court decision.
Virginia Court Records Availability
Virginia has one of the most comprehensive online databases for court records in the country. The appellate case management system allows you to search Supreme Court cases by first and last name, case type, lower tribunal, or tribunal case number. The same search categories are used to access court records online from the Court of Appeals. The General District Court provides online records for traffic, criminal and civil cases.
The Library Collection of Virginia is also state-of-the-art, providing national and state regulations, statutes, and court records. It serves as the reference collection for the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and the legal community, as well as offers the full services of the library to the public. It is located in Richmond, the capital city of Virginia.
Main Court Information
The Supreme Court is located in Richmond, and is the court of last resort for Virginia. The responsibilities of the Supreme Court include overseeing all cases appealed from the Court of Appeals, holding original jurisdiction over cases involving the interpretation of the state and federal constitutions, and admission of attorneys into practice in the state of Virginia. The Court of Appeals serves as the intermediate appellate court of Virginia and was created in 1985 to ease the caseload of the Supreme Court and expedite the process of the appellate court system. There are 11 justices serving on the Court of Appeals who are elected for eight-year terms.
The Supreme Court of Virginia had a somewhat smaller caseload for the year 2013 with 2,050 filings and 1,997 dispositions. This is compared to the previous year which recorded 2,216 filings and 2,113 dispositions reached by the Supreme Court.