Virginia: Final Order & Sanctions – a Lawyer’s Jurisdiction

Virginia: Final Order & Sanctions – a Lawyer’s Jurisdiction

Johnson v. Woodward, 281 Va. 403 (2011) addressed the jurisdiction of trial courts upon entry of final orders. It was on appeal from the Circuit Court of Gloucester County.

Johnson reaffirmed that under Va. Sup. Ct. Rule 1:1 “[a]ll final judgment, orders, and decrees…shall remain under the control of the trial court and subject to be modified, vacated, or suspended for twenty-one days after the date of entry, and no longer”. Id. at 408. It also reaffirms that the 21-day jurisdictional rule applies to entry of non-suit orders vis-à-vis pending motions for sanctions. Id. at 408-409.

Additionally, Johnson reaffirmed that “a circuit court may avoid the application of the 21 day time period in Rule 1:1 by including specific language stating that the court is retaining jurisdiction to address matters still pending before the court.” Id. at 409-410. In the order granting non-suit in Johnson, the Gloucester Circuit Court explicitly retained its jurisdiction over the pending Va. Code Ann. 8.01-271.1 motion for attorneys fees and costs and, moreover, specifically stated it was not a final order for purposes of Rule 1:1.