A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court of Virginia heard arguments on petitions for appeal of about 25 cases Tuesday morning, July 12, in the Albemarle Circuit Court. Justice Donald W. Lemons and Senior Justices Elizabeth B. Lacy and Lawrence L. Koontz, Jr., heard 10-minute arguments by lawyers and parties who wanted the Virginia Supreme Court to accept their appeals in both criminal and civil cases. The Court has held summer writ panels around the Commonwealth for a number of years, but this panel was the first time the Supreme Court of Virginia has been in session in Charlottesville for many decades at least. Justice Lemons presided from the bench beneath a portrait of Thomas Jefferson in the historic Albemarle County courtroom.
Supreme Court writ panels decide whether the full Court will consider appeals presented in cases where no automatic right of appeal applies. Under Virginia law, very few cases involve an automatic right of appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. Even though only one of the Justices needs to want the Court to consider an appeal and any denial of a petition for appeal must be unanimous, the vast majority of petitions are denied. Only the party requesting the Court to consider an appeal is given an opportunity to give oral argument on the petition to the writ panel.
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