Virginia

Virginia in the United States

Legal Materials

This entry is divided into the following sections:

  • Summaries of Virginia Law
  • Legislative Branch
  • Executive Branch
  • Judicial Branch
  • Other Useful Information

Summaries of Virgina Law

For a discussion of Virginia law, see Michie’s Jurisprudence of Virginia and West Virginia (LexisNexis).

Legislative Branch

Legislation: The Code of Virginia (laws), bills and resolutions back to 1994 and bill status, plus “meetings / minutes / statistics” are all available from Virginia’s Legislative Information System.

You can check the status of a pending bill on the Legislative Information System’s Bills & Resolutions page. For questions and up-to-the-minute status checks, call the Legislative Information Office at 804-698-1500.

The HeinOnline session law collection has Virginia session laws back to 1776.

Virginia does not have extensive legislative history materials, but the Legislative History page posted by the Virginia Division of Legislative Services explains what can be done to find the legislative intent behind a law.

For more information on Virginia legislation, visit the Division of Legislative Services’ Legislative Reference Center, which posts publications that discuss bills, committee reports, etc. Also check out Virginia news on Lexis and/or Westlaw.

For libraries that will send copies of historical Virgina legislative materials, see the “Libraries” section of this entry, below.

Safety Codes: You can link to current and prior editions of the Virginia building code, fire prevention code and other safety codes scrolling to the “Publications” section at the bottom of the Building Codes page posted by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. See also the “Building Code” part of the “Other Useful Information” section, below.

Executive Branch

Regulations: The Virginia Legislative Information System includes a current, searchable edition of the Virginia Administrative Code. The Virginia Register of Regulations is posted back to 1998. For reviewing and tracking recent regulations, see the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall.

Attorney General Opinions: Attorney General opinions back to the beginning of 1996 are posted by the Virgina Attorney General.

Executive Agencies and Offices: Addresses and telephone numbers are available from the Virginia State Agency Directory and the State Yellow Book. Links to Virginia government agencies and offices are posted in the Commonwealth Sites list.

Judicial Branch

Docket Sheets/Case Information: The Virginia Judiciary provides online Case Status and Information databases that allow you to look up case information for most Virginia courts. Most Circuit courts not listed provide their own online systems, such as Alexandria City Circuit Court (case information is free; paid subscription required for document images) and Fairfax County Circuit Court (paid subscription required gets you docket sheets and judgments; you have to go to the Court for copies of other documents, and they have a 10 page per day limit). See the “Docket Sheets” for information about commercial online search systems.

Court Rules: Virginia court rules are published in Virginia Rules Annotated(LexisNexis) and the “Rules of Virginia Supreme Court” volume at the end of the Code of Virginia (LexisNexis), which is also annotated.

Fairfax County: The Fairfax County Circuit Court technically does not have local rules, but they do have the Fairfax Circuit Court Practice Manual published by the Fairfax County Bar Association.

Judicial Opinions: Opinions of the Virginia Supreme Court (1995-Present), the Court of Appeals (Published – 1995-Present; Unpublished – 2002-Present), the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee (1999-Present) and the Attorney General are available free through the Virginia Judicial System’s Opinions page. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals opinions are also available free from Google Scholar (1950-Present) and FindLaw (1995-Present).

In addition, Supreme and appellate court judicial opinions going way back are available from Lexis and Westlaw. Fastcase goes back to 1950. Supreme and appellate court cases are reported in West’s South Eastern Reporter.

You can search selected Virginia State Civil Trial Court Orders on Westlaw (VA-TRIALORDERS). An Order can be a ruling on a motion or an opinion deciding a case.

Judges: Virginia judges are reviewed by the Judicial Performance Evaluation program. Reports by the JPE were released for the first time in December 2015, and linked from the online version of an article in the Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly called, Judicial Evaluations Public for First Time” (subscription required). For questions or to ask for copies of judicial reviews, call the JPE program at 804-786-6455.

Lists of candidates for judicial positions are often reported in the Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly.

Jury Instructions: Official Virginia jury instructions are drafted by Model Jury Instructions Committee and published in Virginia Model Jury Instructions (LexisNexis). There is one volume for Civil and one for Criminal instructions.

Verdicts and Settlements: Virginia verdicts and settlements are reported in theVirginia Lawyer’s Weekly and the Virginia Verdict Reporter, which seems to be part of the D.C. Metro Verdicts Monthly (published by the Verdict Research Group, formerly JAS Publications). The Weekly is searchable if you have a password to paper’s website. The Reporter is available from the publisher’s web site. Other sources include Lexis (VA;VAJURY) and Westlaw, which I believe rely largely on the VRG/JAS Publications.

Other Useful Information

Attorneys: To see if an attorney is licensed in Virginia, see the Virginia Lawyer Directory by the Virginia State Bar. To check for public disciplinary records, see the Attorneys Records Search for records back to 1991; to check back further, call the Virginia Bar at 804-775-0573.

Automobiles: Automobile registration is handled by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. DMV registrations are not considered public records, and access to the Department’s online database is limited by law.

Building Code: The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development posts the Virgina Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC). The USBC modifies theInternational Building Code (IBC) (published by the International Code Council) and incorporates the IBC by reference. For other Codes, see the “Safety Codes” part of the Legislative Branch section, above.

Business entities: You can look up Virginia business registrations using the SCC eFile Business Entity Search posted by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC). You may also want to search the web version of the old Clerk’s Information System, which is clunky but contains additional information.

General partnerships (GPs), including Limited Liability Partnerships and “reciprocal insurance companies” are not included in the SCC eFile Business Search. For reciprocal insurance companies, use the Bureau of Insurance Company Search. For General Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships, call the SCC Clerk’s Office (866-722-2551 in Virginia or 804-371-9733 our-of-state).

Doctors: The Virginia Board of Medicine posts a Practitioner Information database that allows you to look up doctors, get contact information and check their license status, education, and disciplinary history.

Law Libraries: For questions about Virginia legal materials, copies and/or inter-library loan, try calling the Norfolk Law Library (757-622-2910), the Virginia State Law Library(804-786-2075), the University of Virginia law library (513-556-0163) and/or the George Mason University law library (703-993-8120).

Newspapers: Virginia Lawyers Weekly is Virginia’s legal newspaper of record.

For more information see the Virginia Legal Materials page posted by the George Mason law library and/or A Guide to Legal Research in Virginia (Virginia CLE Publications).

Note: We linked the resources to archive.org in an effort to decrease the number of broken links cited.

Primary Law

For more U.S. state primary law resources, see:

Topics Covered by the Virginia Legal Encyclopedia

Note: More detailed information about this State is provided in the Virginia jurisdictional legal Encyclopedia, which tie together Virginia statutory and case law.

Resources

See Also

Virginia: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Virginia. This part provides references, in relation to Virginia, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Virginia by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Virginia and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Virginia or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Virginia and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Virginia. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Virginia should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Virginia when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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