Virginia. Supreme Court. Office of the Clerk.

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The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia was created by an act of the new General Assembly in 1779. Its jurisdiction was primarily appellate, and its members were elected by the legislature. The Constitution of 1870 required that annual sessions be held away from Richmond in the localities of Wytheville, Staunton, and Winchester. This mandate from the days of horse and buggy travel continued into the twentieth century, with sessions being held in Staunton as late as September, 1970.

By Constitutional amendment in 1928, the number of justices was increased from five to seven and the title of the presiding officer of the Court was changed from President to Chief Justice. At the same time, the amendment significantly increased the power given the Supreme Court by permitting the Court to prescribe forms and to regulate the practice of Virginia's courts. The Constitution of 1971 changed the name of the Court to its present title of Supreme Court of Virginia.

Although the Supreme Court of Virginia possesses both original and appellate jurisdiction, its primary function is to review decisions of lower courts, including the Court of Appeals, from which appeals have been allowed. Virginia does not allow an appeal to the Supreme Court as a matter of right except in cases involving the State Corporation Commission, certain disciplinary actions against an attorney, and review of the death penalty.

The Court's original jurisdiction is limited to cases of habeas corpus (ordering one holding custody to produce the detained person before the Court for the purpose of determining whether such custody is proper), mandamus (ordering the holder of an office to perform his duty), prohibition (ordering a public official to stop an action), and actual innocence (based on biological testing). The Supreme Court also has original jurisdiction in matters filed by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission relating to judicial censure and retirement, and removal of judges.

The Supreme Court of Virginia Clerk's Office receives, processes, and maintains permanent records of all appeals and other official documents filed with the Court. The Clerk also maintains records of qualified attorneys and other administrative records.

Maury B. Watts was appointed Clerk in 1933 and served until his death in 1952. Howard G. Turner served from 1952 to 1977, Allen L. Lucy from 1977 to 1984, and David B. Beach from 1984 to 2003. Patricia Harrington was appointed in 2003.

The Special Court of Appeals was established by the General Assembly to relieve congestion of the high court docket by adjudicating cases assigned to it by the state Supreme Court. It met from 1924 to 1928.

The Judicial Council was established by the General Assembly in 1928. It was relatively inactive between 1936 and 1947, when Chief Justice Hudgins revitalized it.

From the guide to the Clerk's Correspondence and other Records, 1918-2006, (Supreme Court of Virginia Archives, Virginia State Law Library)

The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia was created by an act of the new General Assembly in 1779. Although the Supreme Court of Virginia possesses both original and appellate jurisdiction, its primary function is to review decisions of lower courts, including the Court of Appeals, from which appeals have been allowed.

Section 49-1 of the Code of Virginia requires justices to take an oath as on officer of the Commonwealth. Pursuant to Section 49-3 of the Code of Virginia, justices may be sworn in by a judge, clerk, or deputy clerk of a court of record; a judge of a district court; the Secretary of the Commonwealth, or a State Corporation Commissioner. Justices are elected by the legislature to 12-year terms. Chief justices are elected by a majority vote of the other Supreme court justices and serve a four-year term.

The Supreme Court of Virginia Clerk's Office receives, processes, and maintains permanent records of all appeals and other official documents filed with the Court. The Clerk also maintains records of qualified attorneys and other administrative records.

From the guide to the Supreme Court of Virginia Oaths of Office, 1935-1985; 2007, (Supreme Court of Virginia Archives, Virginia State Law Library)

In 1895, the General Assembly enacted legislation transferring responsibility for examining prospective lawyers from the circuit court to the highest court in the state. The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia established rules that provided for a written examination to be held in Richmond, Staunton, and Wytheville at different times of year while the court was in session. The examinations were open to any applicant, provided he was at least 21 years old, a resident of Virginia for six months, and "able to produce a certificate of honest demeanor from his local circuit court." The new rules took effect July 1, 1896. Women were implicitly denied an opportunity to apply for membership in the bar. In 1894, a U.S. Supreme Court opinion upheld the Supreme Court of Virginia's ruling that the word "person" meant "man" in an 1887 statute regarding admission of foreign attorneys (LOCKWOOD, EX PARTE, 154 U.S. 116).

An act approved by the General Assembly March 14, 1910, established the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners and authorized it to license lawyers and determine the qualifications of applicants who wished to take the bar examination. The Board served under the auspices of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Source: J. Gordon Hylton, "The Written Bar Examination and the Development of the Modern Legal Profession in Virginia," Richmond Law, Summer 1991 Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 6.

From the guide to the Requests for Certification to take the Written Bar Exam, 1897-1929 (bulk 1897-1909), (Supreme Court of Virginia Archives, Virginia State Law Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Supreme Court of Virginia Photographs, 1881-2011 (bulk 1950-2011), 1881-2011 (bulk 1950-2011) Supreme Court of Virginia Archives, Virginia State Law Library.
creatorOf Supreme Court of Virginia Oaths of Office, 1935-1985; 2007 Supreme Court of Virginia Archives, Virginia State Law Library.
creatorOf Clerk's Correspondence and other Records, 1918-2006 Supreme Court of Virginia Archives, Virginia State Law Library.
creatorOf Requests for Certification to take the Written Bar Exam, 1897-1929 (bulk 1897-1909) Supreme Court of Virginia Archives, Virginia State Law Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agee, G. Steven (George Steven), 1952- person
associatedWith Appeals Press (Richmond, Va.) corporateBody
associatedWith Archer, Margaret. person
associatedWith Beach, David Bernard. person
associatedWith Browning, George Landon, 1867-1947 person
associatedWith Brown, John, 1830-1901 person
associatedWith Buchanan, Archibald Chapman, 1890-1979 person
associatedWith Burks, Martin Parks, 1851-1928 person
associatedWith Butts, William Davis. person
associatedWith Campbell, Preston White, 1874-1946 person
associatedWith Carrico, Harry Lee, 1916- person
associatedWith Carrington, Paul, 1733-1818 person
associatedWith Carrington, Wirt Johnton Turner, 1845-1928 person
associatedWith Chichester, R. H. L. (Richard Henry Lee), 1870-1930 person
associatedWith Chinn, Joseph William, 1866-1936 person
associatedWith Cochran, George Moffett, 1912-2011 person
associatedWith Compton, A. Christian (Asbury Christian), 1929-2006 person
associatedWith Crump, Beverly, b. 1854 person
associatedWith Eggleston, John William, 1886-1976 person
associatedWith Epes, Louis Spencer, 1882-1935 person
associatedWith Fox, Leo. person
associatedWith Gordon, Thomas Christian, 1915-2003 person
associatedWith Gregory, Herbert Bailey, 1884-1951 person
associatedWith Hade, Karl Robert. person
associatedWith Harman, Alexander Marrs, 1921-1996 person
associatedWith Harrington, Patricia Leas. person
associatedWith Harrison, Albertis Sydney, 1907-1995 person
associatedWith Hassell, Leroy Rountree, 1955-2011 person
associatedWith Holt, Henry Winston, 1864-1947 person
associatedWith Hudgins, Edward Wren, 1882-1958 person
associatedWith Hunton, Eppa, 1855-1932 person
associatedWith I'Anson, L. Warren (Lawrence Warren), 1907-1990 person
associatedWith Judicial Council of Virginia. corporateBody
associatedWith Keenan, Barbara Milano, 1950- person
associatedWith Keith, James, 1839-1918 person
associatedWith Kinser, Cynthia D. (Cynthia Diana Fannon), 1951- person
associatedWith Koontz, Lawrence Larkins, 1940- person
associatedWith Lacy, Elizabeth Bermingham, 1945- person
associatedWith Lemons, Donald W., 1948- person
associatedWith Lucy, Allen L. person
associatedWith Mercer, James, 1736-1793 person
associatedWith Miller, Willis Dance, 1893-1960 person
associatedWith Moncure, William A., 1863-1947 person
associatedWith Nurnberger, Robert. person
associatedWith Ozlin, Thomas W. person
associatedWith Peery, George Campbell, 1873-1952 person
associatedWith Poff, Richard Harding, 1923-2011 person
associatedWith Powell, Lewis F., 1908-1998 person
associatedWith Prentis, Robert Riddick, 1855-1931 person
associatedWith Richmond Association of Attorneys' Wives (Richmond, Va.). corporateBody
associatedWith Russell, Charles Stevens, 1926- person
associatedWith Sims, Frederick Wilmer, 1862-1925 person
associatedWith Smales, W. W. person
associatedWith Smith, Alfred C. person
associatedWith Smith, Charles Henry. person
associatedWith Smith, Lemuel Franklin, 1890-1956 person
associatedWith Smith, W. Worth. person
associatedWith Snead, Harold Fleming, 1903-1987 person
associatedWith Spratley, Claude Vernon, 1936-1967 person
associatedWith Staples, Abram P. (Abram Penn), 1885-1951 person
associatedWith Stephenson, Roscoe Bolar, 1922-2011 person
associatedWith Taylor, George, fl. 1785-1810 person
associatedWith Thomas, John Charles, 1950- person
associatedWith Thompson, W. Carrington (William Carrington), 1915-2011 person
associatedWith Tucker, St. George, 1752-1827 person
associatedWith Turner, Howard G., 1910-1992 person
associatedWith Virginia. Art Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Court of Appeals. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Special Court of Appeals. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia State Bar Association. Committee on Organization of the Bar. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia State Bar Association. Committee on Portraits. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Supreme Court. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Supreme Court. History. 20th century. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Supreme Court of Appeals. corporateBody
associatedWith Virginia. Supreme Court. Office of the Executive Secretary. corporateBody
associatedWith Watts, Maury B., 1879-1952 person
associatedWith Whiting, Henry Hudson, 1923- person
associatedWith Whittle, Kennon Caithness, 1891-1967 person
associatedWith Whittle, Stafford Gorman, 1849-1931 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Judges--Virginia
Clerks of court--Virginia
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

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