Responsibilities

The judges of the Circuit Court of the City of Roanoke:
  • Conduct civil and criminal trials and hearings. All jury trials take place in circuit court.
  • Hear and decide civil cases, at law and in equity, including (among others) claims for monetary damages, disputes concerning real property, adoptions, and divorces. The circuit and juvenile courts have concurrent jurisdiction over cases concerning child custody, visitation and support and spousal support; entry of a circuit court order divests the juvenile court of jurisdiction.
  • Hear and decide civil matters appealed from the general district and juvenile and domestic relations district court. Under Virginia law, litigants in those courts have the right to a new trial in the circuit court.
  • Hear and determine all felony cases and all misdemeanor cases arising by indictment, presentment, or information, including those in which pleas of guilty or no contest are entered, as well as those tried by judge and jury, or by judge alone, and impose sentence in all of those cases in which an offender is convicted.
  • Convene all regular and special grand juries. Summon all grand jurors and trial jurors, assure that all methods of selection of such jurors comply with the law, and are fair and constitutional; be responsible for juror care and maintenance during jury service.
  • Hear, determine and, in case of conviction or adjudication of guilt, impose sentence, in all misdemeanor cases appealed from the general district and juvenile and domestic relations district court, and in all delinquency proceedings appealed from the juvenile and domestic relations district court. Under Virginia law, defendants in those courts have the right to a new trial in the circuit court.
  • Hear and determine condemnation cases.
  • Issue writs of mandamus, prohibition and certiorari to all inferior tribunals under the laws of Virginia, and issue writs of mandamus in all matters or proceedings arising from or pertaining to actions of City Council or other boards of commissions or public officials, or, as Virginia Code §17.1-513 says, “in other cases in which it may be necessary to prevent the failure of justice and in which mandamus may issue according to the principles of common law.”
  • Grant or deny requests for injunctions.
  • Issue writs of election, and determine election contests.
  • Hear and decide all cases involving the right to levy and collect fees, tolls or taxes, or the validity of ordinances or corporate bylaws.
  • Hear and decide a variety of administrative agency appeals (including, for example, environmental, labor, unemployment, ABC and DMV appeals) and review aspects of state and local employee grievance cases.
  • Carry out various functions of appointment - appointing, for example, members of the Board of Equalization and Electoral Board, substitute district court judges, and district court judges when the Virginia General Assembly is not in session; appoint special policemen, conservators of the peace, and other law enforcement officers; fill vacancies on City Council, unless the members of council do so within 45 days of the office becoming vacant.
  • Administer and operate the 23rd Judicial Circuit Drug Court Program, in cooperation with appropriate state and local officials.
  • Hear and determine cases and controversies arising under the laws of the United states in which Congress has given state courts concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts, including, for example, cases arising under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C.§§ 51, et seq.
  • Control the use, occupancy, and maintenance of the courthouse, and determine whether to commence proceedings for repair or replacement of the courthouse. Together with the Sheriff, assure courthouse security and adopt rules for courthouse use and maintenance.
  • Admit wills to probate, or decline to do so; hear and determine all controversies concerning decedents’ estates, trusts, and guardianships; appoint and control fiduciaries, including guardians, conservators, trustees, and administrators. Protect the rights of disabled persons and of persons under legal disabilities.
  • Superintend many matters entrusted in the first instance to the circuit court clerk; control off-site storage of records; establish, monitor, and control fiduciary accounts held by the Clerk.
  • Employ judicial secretaries and law-school graduate law clerks. Roanoke City, Roanoke county, and Salem cooperatively provide the resources necessary to employ all of the judicial secretaries and law clerks.
  • With the cooperation and assistance of the sheriffs, circuit court clerks, and commonwealth's attorneys of all 3 jurisdictions of the circuit, criminal cases arising in 2 or more jurisdictions in the Roanoke Valley frequently are determined by 1 judge of the circuit, sitting in 1 courthouse, at 1 time-rather than multiple judges in multiple courthouses. When civil cases brought in multiple jurisdictions in this circuit can be more efficiently handled by a single judge, 1 judge takes responsibility for all cases in all Roanoke Valley jurisdictions. In matters involving the administration of justice and of public safety, the judges of the circuit court regularly work across jurisdictional lines, with the elected governing bodies and appointed executive officials of Roanoke City and county, the City of Salem, and the Town of Vinton.
  • Preside in ceremonial events, administering oaths to newly elected and appointed officials.
  • In accordance with the applicable statutes, grant or deny requests for name changes and applications for permits to carry concealed handguns.
  • Carry out any other necessary or proper judicial function in the City of Roanoke, unless by statute, another court has been given exclusive jurisdiction.