Civil Appeals in the Supreme Court of Virginia
Appeals By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2018/01/09 at 09:25am
The Supreme Court of Virginia is the court of last resort for most cases brought before Virginia state courts (the exception is that, on federal issues brought in state court, some parties can ask the Supreme Court of the United States to hear their case). For civil litigation cases, the Supreme Court of Virginia’s jurisdiction to hear an appeal is discretionary; the judges have to determine whether or not they will hear the case. Here is a brief overview of the appeal process in Virginia.
After a case is finally decided in the circuit court (the trial court), the unsuccessful party has 30 days to file a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court. The appealing party also has to order the transcripts from the trial court proceedings (or otherwise provide for the record to provide to the Supreme Court). After that, the appealing party must file a petition for appeal, which is an abbreviated brief that explains why the Court should grant the appeal. That petition is then disseminated to two of the seven justices on the Court for review. The party opposing the appeal then has the option of filing a brief opposing the petition. Generally, the case will be scheduled for a hearing on the petition, where only the appealing party (called the petitioner) is able to present oral argument to either a panel of three justices or to the chief staff attorney (who will then brief the justices on the petition).
After the hearing on the petition, the panel of justices decides whether to grant the petition, meaning allowing the appeal to move forward. If the petition is granted, then it is set for briefing and oral argument. If the petition is denied, then the petitioner can move all seven justices for a rehearing (which is rarely granted). If the motion for rehearing is denied, then the appeal is over and the case is final.
If an appeal is granted, then both parties are given a briefing schedule. This will include a brief for the appellant, one for the party opposing the appeal, called the appellee, and a final reply brief for the appellant. The case is then set for argument before all seven justices.
After argument, the justices meet in conference, decide the case, and assign a justice to write the opinion. The opinion is then written and the case is usually published during the next sitting of the Supreme Court.