Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Contacting or Visiting the Arlington Circuit Court

By Paul Ferguson

I have had the privilege of serving the residents of the City of Falls Church for the last seven years as Clerk of the Circuit Court. I have enjoyed meeting many of you when you have come to the Courthouse for Jury Duty, to obtain a marriage license, copy of your deed, notary public certificate, concealed weapons permit, or to probate a will.

The Arlington Circuit Court appreciates the partnership with the City of Falls Church. The Arlington Circuit Court has a budget of over three million dollars. The City of Falls Church contributes a little over $100,000 to be part of the Arlington Court System. I believe it is a cost effective partnership for both localities.

The office is open from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday. You cannot bring in your cell phone unless you are here for jury duty or a licensed attorney. When visiting or interacting with the Court, my goal is to do everything possible to make it as easy as possible to conduct your business. We try to provide information to you in advance and allow you to do as many things on line as possible. A good place to start is visiting our website at courts.arlingtonva.us/circuit-court or you can contact the office by phone at (703) 228-7010. Applications for Notary Public and Concealed Weapons Permits are available on line.

It is likely that you will receive a summons for jury duty at some point. I have found that Falls Church residents are civic-minded and understand that all criminal and civil litigants have the right to be tried by a jury of their peers. In my years as Clerk of the Court, I have never met a Falls Church resident who has complained about jury duty. I realize that each juror has a busy work or family schedule and we are committed to doing what we can to make the system work for you.

When you receive a jury questionnaire, we urge you to use our automated jury management system which allows you to complete and submit juror questionnaires electronically. You can still use the regular mail if you prefer. Approximately 60 percent of potential jurors utilize the electronic submission process.

When you start your week of jury service, we have you “on call” for four days, Monday – Thursday. We usually do not call you in every day. You check the juror website or phone hotline each day after 5 p.m. each night to see whether you need to come in the next morning. We also send you email reminders and information.

You are allowed to bring in your cell phone as long as you show proof that you are a juror. We have some reserved parking spaces for jurors but also encourage using Metro. Unlike Falls Church City Hall, everyone has to pay for parking near the Arlington Court House.

We attempt to provide you sufficient information about the jury trial process during a brief orientation and have taken steps to allow you to use your waiting time efficiently. We have wireless internet, coffee, tea, and water available in the jury assembly room for you to enjoy while waiting for trials to begin. Many bring a good book to read while waiting or the Falls Church News-Press.

Once your service is complete, whether you actually served on a trial or not, we take you out of our system for three years. While there is a small chance you could be summonsed again in year four, most jurors only serve two or three times.

You may need to contact us concerning information about your property. We often have individuals looking for a copy of the deed for their home. The City of Falls Church started maintaining property records in Arlington in 1988. For pre-1988 information on a property, you need to contact the Fairfax County Circuit Court.

You may need to contact us about probating an estate. We have knowledgeable, experienced staff who will set an appointment and provide the information you need. We know this is a difficult experience for many who are having to probate an estate for a loved one who has recently died. You are also able to file the original of your will with our probate office for a nominal $2 fee.

If you are getting married it is required that you visit our office in person. Both parties need to be present with proper identification. The process takes between 15 and 30 minutes. The marriage license fee is $30.

I always look forward to the opportunity to administer oaths for appointed (and occasionally elected) positions. You may receive an appointment to serve on a State Board. I am glad to meet you at City Hall in Falls Church with your family and friends to administer the oath.
If you have any questions about the court system, please correspond with me at [email protected] or call (703) 228 7010.

 


Paul Freguson is Clerk of the Court for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church.

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