Terms of Court

Times for the commencement of the regular terms of court are as follows:

Criminal Terms
Docket calls for the setting of trials for criminal cases are at 1:30 PM. on the second Monday of each month. If Monday is a holiday, docket call will be the next day. Felony cases in which a preliminary hearing is set and Juvenile transfer cases may be preset for trial at the preliminary hearing date with the agreement of the Commonwealth's attorney. All criminal cases to be set for trial in the Circuit Court must be set at the Criminal Docket Call unless preset with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.

In criminal cases, the Circuit Court hears all felonies and misdemeanors originating from a grand jury indictment. In addition, the circuit court hears all misdemeanors appealed from the General District Court. A felony is a crime which, among other sanctions, could result in a sentence to the state penitentiary for one year or more, and a misdemeanor is a crime which, among other sanctions, could result in a sentence to jail of not more than 12 months.

Civil Terms
Docket calls for the setting of trials for civil cases are at 10 AM on the second Monday of January, March, May, July, September and November. If Monday is a holiday, the docket call will be the next day. Please note that only matters which have matured for trial on their merits will be called for setting at Docket Call. If you have a matter in this posture which you desire set for trial, you must file a praecipe with the Clerk of Court, with notice to the other party (parties) as required by Local Rules, on the form set forth in the Local Rules no later than the Friday 10 days preceding the next docket call. Some judges may allow some matters matured for trial to be set outside the Call of the Docket by agreement of counsel and you should check with the individual judge regarding that procedure.

All pretrial motions, hearings, conferences and other pretrial matters shall be set for hearing with the secretary of the appropriate judge. In all matters scheduled with the judges' secretaries, a written notice shall be filed with the court and a copy sent to all counsel prior to the date of the matter, setting forth the purpose for the hearing and the matters to be heard. Attorneys securing dates for hearings must confirm the actual date with the appropriate judges' secretary prior to the filing of the said notice of hearing.

Commissioners in Chancery
Commissioners in Chancery are not used in Newport News for uncontested divorces. Contested matters are generally referred to commissioners; however, on a limited basis, some judges may hear a matter ore tenus. Check with the judge of the court in which you filed.