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Appeals court to convene in city
Court of Appeals will convene in the city for first time in 10 years

Date published: 10/31/2007


The Virginia Court of Appeals will be making an appearance in Fredericksburg this week.

The court, which usually meets in one of four other Virginia localities, will be hearing about 20 cases in a Writ panel the first day of reopening for the Circuit Courtroom.

The court has been closed for renovations, but is expected to be back to normal this week.

Court of Appeals Judge James W. Haley, who made the special request for the panel to convene in the city, said he wanted to "show off Fredericksburg" to his fellow judges.

"I'm proud of Fredericksburg, and we have a very historic courthouse," he said.

Haley said he plans to give a short speech before court starts about the courthouse's history.

Judge Jere M. H. Willis Jr., who, like Haley, worked as a Fredericksburg Circuit Court judge, is now a senior judge on the Court of Appeals.

Willis said he only remembers one other occasion when the higher court met in Fredericksburg and that was about 10 years ago, but said he was excited for another chance.

"Fredericksburg is a good place to meet because it's readily accessible to a good deal of the area," he said.

Haley said he's also excited to show local lawyers more about the appeals process because he feels many are not aware of it.

In a Writ panel, like the one they will hold Thursday, three judges listen to arguments by attorneys as to why the court of appeals should hear their case. If any of the three judges agrees, the case will be passed on and will be heard by a merit panel, he said.

Then, if four or more members of the 11-judge Court of Appeals determine that the written decision of a merit panel should be further reviewed, that case will be argued before the entire panel of judges.

Haley said the Thursday session should be a pretty typical Writ panel day and he expects them to complete hearing the 20 or so cases by lunchtime.

Ellen Biltz: 540/374-5424
Email: ebiltz@freelancestar.com