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About the Court of Appeals of Virginia

The Court of Appeals of Virginia provides appellate review of circuit court decisions in civil, criminal, and administrative agency cases, and final decisions of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Most appeals to the Court of Appeals are a matter of right. The Commonwealth must petition the Court of Appeals if it wishes to appeal a decision in a criminal case pursuant to Virginia Code §17.1-406(A). The Court of Appeals also has jurisdiction to hear interlocutory appeals and petitions for review of injunctions through a discretionary petition process. The Court has original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus (ordering a public official to perform their duty), prohibition (ordering a public official to stop an action), and habeas corpus (ordering the official with custody to produce the detained person to the Court so it can determine whether such custody is proper) in any case over which the Court would have appellate jurisdiction. It also has jurisdiction in writs of actual innocence based on non-biological evidence.

The decisions of the Court of Appeals are final in pre-trial Commonwealth’s appeals, appeals involving involuntary treatment of prisoners, and appeals involving denial of a concealed handgun permit. In pre-trial Commonwealth’s appeals, however, if a defendant is convicted, he or she may seek review of the pre-trial appeal ruling on direct appeal. All other decisions of the Court of Appeals are appealable to the Supreme Court.

The Court of Appeals consists of seventeen judges. The Court sits in panels of at least three judges, and panel membership rotates on a random basis. Although the Clerk’s Office is based in Richmond, the Court hears arguments in four regions to provide litigants throughout the Commonwealth convenient local access to the Court.