VA in Need of More Juvenile Court Judges

Dec 4, 2013

Virginia needs 30 new judges to keep up with the current caseload.  That’s according to a new study. 

Brian Ostrom with the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg helped conduct the study which was ordered by the General Assembly.  It took 18 months, cost the Commonwealth 240 thousand dollars, and looked at the number of court cases plus the amount of work involved.  Ostrom says judges are especially needed in juvenile court.

“The work there is changing and increasing in ways that are, make it more challenging for the judges to keep current with their caseload.  More requirements on the number of times they need to meet with families and children.  It’s a challenging part of the court’s workload.

He says the increased workload was created, in part, by not filling vacancies when judges retired.  That’s resulted in a backlog of cases which is reducing the level of service for Virginians.

Typically what courts will do is they’ll prioritize the criminal side so that you’ll get those people before a judge within the required speedy trial timelines and get those resolved.  But what that means though, is that the civil the family, and probate, those sorts of matters, will sometimes get pushed off.”

Ostrom says the cost to fill all the judgeships would be an additional 9 million dollars a year.  He hopes the General Assembly will fill vacancies and hire new judges where the need is the greatest.