Virginia's Judicial System

About the Supreme Court of Virginia

Although the Supreme Court of Virginia possesses both original and appellate jurisdiction, its primary function is to review decisions of lower tribunals. Virginia does not allow an appeal to the Supreme Court as a matter of right except in cases involving the State Corporation Commission and certain disciplinary actions against attorneys.

The Court's original jurisdiction is limited to cases of habeas corpus (ordering one holding custody of a detained person to show custody is proper), mandamus (ordering the holder of an office to perform his duty), prohibition (ordering a lower court, tribunal, or quasi-judicial body to refrain from improperly taking jurisdiction), and actual innocence (based on biological testing). The Supreme Court also has original jurisdiction in matters filed by the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission relating to judicial censure and retirement, and removal of judges.