The Virginia Appellate Lawyer’s Court of Appeals of Virginia Blog

Statistics for the First Quarter of 2022

A few days ago I posted statistics for the first month of filings in the “new” Court of Appeals.  This evening I entered the remaining data for the first quarter of 2022.  Here is the skinny on what was filed in the first 90 days of 2022:

There were 490 cases assigned record numbers.  As I have previously explained, not all filings in the Court of Appeals are assigned record numbers, but it is difficult to track those few filings that bypass the docket (typically, these are motions that are expedited by the Court).  The pace of filings for criminal appeals of right ticked up slightly from January, while civil appeals stayed level and domestic relations appeals declined fairly sharply from 30 filed in January to just 60 total by the end of March.  The breakdown of filings in all categories is:

244 Criminal Appeals

95 Civil Appeals

60 Domestic Relations Appeals

24 Appeals from Decisions of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission

15 Filings over which the Court Lacked Jurisdiction

15 Petitions for Writs of Actual Innocence

8 Commonwealth’s Appeals from Pre-Trial Orders

7 Appeals from the Granting or Denying of a Bond in the Circuit Court

7 Appeals from the Granting or Denying of an Injunction in the Circuit Court

4 Appeals from Administrative Agency cases

4 Appeals from Sexually Violent Predator Commitment Reviews

2 Petitions for Writs of Mandamus

2 State Employee Grievance Appeals

1 Appeal from a Civil Contempt

1 Appeal from a Criminal Contempt

1 Habeas Petition

On the 490 cases, 119, just under 25%, have already been disposed of in some fashion:

66 were dismissed

21 were withdrawn

13 were summarily dismissed (a disposition only used for petitions for writs of actual innocence)

9 were transferred to the Supreme Court of Virginia

5 were denied

3 were affirmed by unpublished order

2 were reversed and remanded by unpublished order

The dismissal rate was 13%, but that number is sure to go up as many of these cases are still awaiting the transfer of the record from the circuit court.  36 of the dismissed appeals were filed pro se, which means 30 dismissed appeals were filed by counsel.  Now, it is entirely possible that not all of those 30 were dismissed for a procedural error made by counsel.  For example, an appeal may have been noted from an apparently final order which, after careful review, was determined to not be ripe for appeal – an easy thing to miss and the dismissal is without prejudice to refile once an appealable order is entered.  But it is certain that at least some of those were dismissed for a missed deadline, and that’s not a good thing.  Counsel filed appeals being dismissed (so far) in 6% of the cases filed is 6% too many.

One other point of note.  In the first quarter of 2022, one 1 Anders brief has been filed thus far.  It is possible that as more briefs become due this number will increase, but if only 1 of 244 criminal appeals merited an Anders brief, this calls into question whether Anders is really a necessary option for court-appointed attorneys.  I have recently posted my view that Anders briefs are rarely, if ever, really required from an ethical standpoint, and are used so infrequently that many attorneys do not know what a Anders brief is.

I am working toward getting up-to-date stats for the first half of the year.  Perhaps I will spend my 4th of July compiling a more detailed analysis of what this new era in Virginia appellate law is shaping up to be.

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