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Winter weather impacts courts already hit by coronavirus

Although most backlogs can still be contributed to the pandemic, winter weather is causing more delays in court systems
Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 5:48 PM EST
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BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s no secret coronavirus has been impacting courthouses across the commonwealth for almost two years now.

If someone’s sick, a case gets moved. The more people impacted, the more backlog is created.

But recent winter weather is now worsening the problem coronavirus started.

“When you have a semi-rural to rural jurisdiction like Bedford County getting inclement weather, it puts a further strain on the dockets and all three courts we have here,” said Wes Nance, Bedford commonwealth’s attorney.

Nance says winter weather is usually accounted for.

But more of it could mean more continuances, especially for things like jury trials.

“We need the judge here, we need clerks, bailiffs, witnesses, defendants and the attorneys involved, and if any of those individuals are in a place that makes it difficult to reach the courthouse, that case can’t go forward,” said Nance.

Folks in other localities have already felt the impacts of weather.

A snowstorm earlier this month pushed back a docket call day in Lynchburg.

“So all those cases that were scheduled to be set that day are going to the February 7 docket call to be set, so it’s a delay of another month,” said Mike Pflieger, Lynchburg chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney.

Nance says they’re going to continue to push forward despite the mix of problems to make sure everything gets done.

“It’s something that we’re used to working with, it’s a major impact on our docket, but we’ll continue to move forward and push through,” said Nance.

An end to the pandemic and an earlier spring would help take the pressure off these systems.

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