A narrowly divided Court, in an order signed by Justice Mims, suspended all writs of eviction pursuant to unlawful detainer actions in Virginia, effective August 10, 2020, and continuing through September 7, 2020. The four-justice majority noted that the ongoing public health emergency limited the ability of tenants to avail themselves of the court system, and the Governor’s request for time to craft a legislative package with the General Assembly providing relief to tenants facing eviction and expanding financial assistance, in support of the order.
The order specifically excluded evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent from the moratorium. Chief Justice Lemons, joined by Justices Kelsey and Chafin, dissented, arguing that the “solution [to this crisis] properly lies with the legislative branch” and not the “judicial branch,” and “should not put a heavy thumb on the scales of justice and deny property owners access to the courts and enforcement of their long-established rights under the law.” Justice Kelsey, joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Chafin, filed a longer dissent, arguing that the majority’s order was entered without any due process, raised “serious constitutional questions,” and was beyond the Court’s authority to issue.
A link to the order is here: http://www.vacourts.gov/news/items/covid/2020_0807_scv_amendment_to_eighth_order.pdf