Special justices are judicial officers appointed by chief circuit court
judges and are specially authorized by statute to hear certain
mental health commitment matters. The chief judge of each judicial
circuit may appoint one or more special justices for the purpose
of conducting these hearings that would otherwise be conducted
by a judge. Special justices may be retired judges or attorneys
licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. They
serve under the supervision and at the pleasure of the chief judge
of the judicial circuit. Pursuant to Virginia Code § 37.2-803,
each special justice shall be appointed for a period of up to six
years and may be reappointed to serve for additional periods of
up to six years. All special justices are required to complete
an initial minimum training program, as well as an annual mental
health law update, prescribed by the Executive Secretary of the
An individual designated to sit as a special justice may preside over certain cases involving adults including, but not limited to, cases involving voluntary and involuntary civil commitments and admissions. In accordance with Virginia Code § 37.2-100, a special justice may authorize treatment for a mental or physical disorder on behalf of an adult person. Special justices may also authorize emergency treatment prior to trial and may issue a temporary detention order (TDO) for such treatment.
Pursuant to Virginia Code § 16.1-336, special justices are also expressly authorized to preside over certain proceedings involving children, including authorization of inpatient mental health treatment for juveniles; admission of juveniles to mental health facilities with the consent of a parent; emergency admission of juveniles to mental health facilities, including juveniles already in detention or shelter care pursuant to an order of a juvenile and domestic relations court; and involuntary commitment of juveniles to mental health facilities.
- Christie Dwyer
Phone - (804) 786-6455
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Provides basic information about the requirements of the ADA as they pertain to Virginia’s Judicial System, including how to request an accommodation.
- Training Standards and Appointment Guidelines for Special Justices
Judicial Council of Virginia approved standards governing the appointment and continued qualification of special justices for adult civil commitment hearings and special justices for juvenile civil commitment hearings.
- Frequently Asked Questions (forthcoming)