Circuit Court Judges

The Circuit Court is a court of general jurisdiction and presides over both civil and criminal cases, for either jury or non-jury trials. The Circuit Court has original jurisdiction for all felony indictments and for presentments, informations and indictments for misdemeanors. The Circuit Court hears civil and criminal appeals from the General District Court and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Page updated on Oct 20, 2016 at 11:06 AM


Appeals from the Circuit Court are either to the Court of Appeals of Virginia or the Supreme Court of Virginia. In criminal trials, trial by jury is mandatory unless waived by the defendant, the prosecutor, and the court. See Prosecution in Alexandria's Courts for additional information.


Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals of Virginia provides for intermediate appellate review of all decisions of the Circuit Courts in traffic infractions, in criminal cases (except where a sentence of death has been imposed), and in decisions of the Circuit Court involving domestic relations matters and appeals from administrative agencies. The Court of Appeals also hears appeals from the Industrial Commission. The Court of Appeals sits in panels of at least three judges at locations designated by the Chief Judge, so as to provide convenient access to the various areas of the Commonwealth. The 10 Court of Appeals judges are elected in the same manner as Circuit Court judges and serve an eight-year term. The Chief Judge is elected by the 10 judges and serves a four-year term.  For more information, visit the Court of Appeals of Virginia web site.


General Information  

Deeds, wills, deeds of trust, and other papers are filed with the Clerk of Court (703.746.4044). The Clerk of Court maintains and processes land record documents for the City, handles probate and fiduciary matters, issues marriage licenses, and provides clerical assistance to the judges in all civil and criminal matters. Other duties include issuing notarial certificates, administering oaths to elected and appointed officials, and maintaining historical records and statistics for the City. The Clerk of Court, a constitutional officer, is elected for an eight-year term. See additional information on the Clerk of Circuit Court-Court of Record.

Inclement Weather Policy

The Circuit Court will be closed when the City Government (not City schools) is closed or when the City Government is two (2) or more hours late in opening due to inclement weather.  

Judges of Alexandria Circuit Court

Judges of the Circuit Court are elected by a joint vote of both houses of the General Assembly and are commissioned by the Governor for a term of eight years. The Governor can make interim appointments when the General Assembly is in recess. Alexandria has three Circuit Court judges. The judges are: Lisa B. Kemler, Chief Judge; Nolan B. Dawkins and James C. Clark.  For more information, contact the Judges' Chambers at 703.746.4123. 


Once a year, Circuit Court mails Juror Questionnaires to prospective jurors, who are randomly selected according to Section 8.01-345 of the Code of Virginia.  Once the questionnaires are returned to Circuit Court, the questionnaires are reviewed by jury commissioners to determine which citizens are qualified to serve as Jurors for the following calendar year.  Potential jurors may call 703.746.4119 to speak with the jury coordinator.

Local Procedures 

Attorneys and pro se litigants should refer to Circuit Court Local Procedures - Civil and Circuit Court Local Procedures - Criminal for specific information.

Notice to Pro se Litigants   

For pro se litigants who schedule trials (either jury or non-jury) or contested or equitable distribution divorces (including matters relating to child/spousal support and visitation/custody), please be advised that 

1.  You must know the law relating to your issues and you will be expected to adhere to the Rules of Evidence and Rules of Court.

2.   If you have a witness or witnesses that you want to have testify on your behalf, unless they are willing to come to court voluntarily, you must serve them with a lawful subpoena. 

3.   You must have all the proper pleadings prepared and filed with the Clerk of Court no later than one week before the trial date.

4.   You must know how to proceed with presenting your case, including testifying, examination of witnesses and introduction of exhibits (documents, photographs or other tangible objects) as the Court will not be able help you with the case at trial.

5.   The Court, in its discretion, may dismiss your case if you do not follow the above procedures.

To assist pro se/self-represented litigants, please refer to The Virginia Judicial System Court Self-Help Website,   This website provides neutral legal information as a public service in topical areas commonly sought by self-represented litigants, such as traffic tickets, divorce, and landlord and tenant issues.

You are strongly advised to obtain an attorney to represent you. The Court and its employees cannot give you legal advice on how to proceed; if you need such advice, then you must hire an attorney.

Supreme Court of Virginia 

The Supreme Court of Virginia's primary purpose is to review the decisions of lower courts in which appeals have been allowed. The Court, which is located in Richmond, also has the power to issue writs of mandamus, habeas corpus, and prohibition; it has original jurisdiction in cases of judicial censure and removal.  The Court has seven justices who are elected by joint vote of both houses of the General Assembly and are commissioned by the Governor to serve 12-year terms. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the administrative head of the state judicial system.  For more information, visit the Supreme Court of Virginia web site.