It takes a steady, knowledgeable hand to navigate the Rocket Docket.

According to Wikipedia, a rocket docket “refers to a court or other tribunal that is noted for its speedy disposition of cases and controversies that come before it, often by maintaining strict adherence to the law as (it) pertains to filing deadlines etc.” The term was coined right here in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), located down the street from our offices in Alexandria, Virginia.

Rocket DocketIn 1954, Judge Walter E. Hoffman began a 12-year regiment of putting in long hours, cutting the traditional 2-hour lunch, and holding court on Saturdays and holidays. He also initiated the practice of fining lawyers who were late and establishing “firm trial dates.” Hoffman was quoted as saying that “the lawyers for both sides know there will be no continuances,” and that in this district “continuance” is an obscene word.

Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. continued the practice into the seventies when he decided that cases were dragging and justice was being dispensed too slowly for his liking. He was known to often rule on the spot as motions were argued. He would leave attorneys breathless as he tried entire cases in an afternoon, that otherwise would take much longer.

To this day, those that are unsure of the system are stricken with fear when they are told how much time they have from filing a Complaint to disposition for civil cases. The Rocket Docket has the shortest average time in the country at 12.1 months. Most years, Law 360 determines which court is the fastest and to date, the EDVA comes in first most often with the Eastern District of Texas coming in second.

In addition to the speedy resolution of civil cases, the Rocket Docket also tends to Intellectual Property cases in the same manner. This attracts many cases to our courts in search of quick decisions. But this also means attorneys that may not have the knowledge of the intricate and unique system of rules and regulations set forth by the court often wander into peril.

DiMuroGinsberg is well-versed in all aspects of dealing with the Rocket Docket. Many of our attorneys have over 40 years of experience working within the system and the firm wrote the book on the subject. Please feel free to download a copy of our Rocket Docket booklet, focusing on the EDVA procedures as applied in the Alexandria Division as well as an overview of procedures in all Divisions in patent infringement/invalidity cases. Additionally, we publish “DG Rocket Docket Updates” on a regular basis to help keep our fellow attorneys aware of breaking news, new rules, changes and announcements by the Court. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter DGRead to receive these regular Updates. These Updates are also published below.

Because of our in-depth knowledge of the court system, our incredible experience and our ability to provide cost-effective legal representation, we are the ideal choice to act as local counsel for law firms unfamiliar with the unique rules and practices of the EDVA. Please feel free to call us at 703-684-4333 for help with the Rocket Docket. It’s our specialty.

August 14, 2020
Rocket Docket Update from DG: The Judicial Conference Advisory Committees on Appellate, Bankruptcy, and Civil Rules have proposed amendments to their respective rules and have asked that they be circulated to the bench, bar, and public for comment. The public comment period closes on February 16, 2021.
For more detailed information, please see The proposed amendments and the advisory committees’ reports explaining the proposed changes are posted on the Judiciary’s website at: http://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/proposed-amendments-published-public-comment.

June 30, 2020
Rocket Docket Update from DG: General Order 2020-19 outlines the anticipated timeline for the resumption of criminal jury trials in our District, which are expected to begin on September 14, 2020.
For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-19 In re: REVISED SCHEDULE FOR THE RESUMPTION OF CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS

June 5, 2020
Rocket Docket Update from DG: General Order 2020-17 updates the Court’s temporary restrictions regarding entry to the Courthouses in our District during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-17 In re: UPDATE TO COURTHOUSE ENTRY RESTRICTIONS

May 26, 2020
Rocket Docket Update fro DG: General Order 2020-16 outlines the anticipated timeline for the phased expansion of Court Operations in our District, which is expected to begin on June 11, 2020.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-16 In re: PHASED EXPANSION OF COURT OPERATIONS

5/18/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 983, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has issued an order providing extensions to certain deadlines relating to the administrative and civil judicial asset forfeiture proceedings within this District. Such order was issued upon motion by the United States and in response to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, to include the health risks and endangerment to the life and safety of government asset forfeiture attorneys and staff who are responsible for reviewing cases, issuing notices, and processing claims.

For more detailed information, please see the Court’s Order (dated May 14, 2020) issued in Case No. 2:20-mc-9.

5/14
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: 1) In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to supplement steps previously taken by this Court to reduce the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 and to slow the spread of the disease, the Court finds it necessary and appropriate to adopt a face covering and social distancing policy for all Courthouse employees, contractors, and visitors.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-14 In re: FACE COVERINGS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING IN COURTHOUSES ACROSS THE DISTRICT

2) In response to recent developments, to include the Court’s increased capabilities to conduct remote proceedings and thereby reduce the risk that all Courthouses in the District would be rendered unusable at the same time, the Court has determined that it is no longer necessary for the U.S. Courthouse in Newport News to serve as the Emergency Judicial Center for the District, as was previously directed by General Order No. 2020-10. As such, beginning on May 26, 2020, the U.S. Courthouse in Newport News will be reopened to the public and to all employees, subject to the same restrictions on proceedings and visitors as all other Courthouses in the District.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-15 In re: CESSATION OF THE U.S. COURTHOUSE IN NEWPORT NEWS AS THE DISTRICT’S EMERGENCY JUDICIAL CENTER

4/16/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG:
Posted 4/15/20 In light of the Court’s prior authorization of the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings, the Court now authorizes the U.S. Probation Office to make a defendant’s pretrial services report available to counsel in an electronic format in the same manner that Presentence Reports are currently made available to a defendant’s counsel and an attorney for the government.
For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-13 In re: ELECTRONIC ACCESS TO BOND REPORTS

4/10/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE:
Posted 4/10/20 All civil and criminal in-person proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, including court appearances, trials, hearings, settlement conferences, and naturalization ceremonies scheduled to occur through June 10, 2020, with the exception of critical or emergency proceedings, are POSTPONED, subject to the conditions set forth in this General Order. The instant General Order does not postpone any remote proceedings scheduled by a presiding judge in any civil or criminal case.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-12 In re: UPDATES TO THE MODIFICATIONS OF COURT OPERATIONS AND EXTENSION OF THE POSTPONEMENT OF IN-PERSON PROCEEDINGS

3/30/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed legislation authorizing the use of video or telephone conferencing for certain criminal proceedings. Pursuant to such Congressional authorization, the attached Order makes the findings necessary to implement video teleconferencing, or alternatively telephone conferencing, in this District.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-09 In re: AUTHORIZATION TO USE VIDEO TELECONFERENCING OR TELEPHONE CONFERENCING PURSUANT TO THE CARES ACT

3/26/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: In order to further reduce person-to-person contact in our Courthouses, the Clerk’s Office public counters shall be CLOSED until further notice, effective Monday, March 30, 2020. Members of the public will retain access to the drop boxes at or near the entrances of each of our Courthouses to deposit filings during business hours, and a phone will be available near each drop box so that filers can speak to someone in the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office staff will remain available by telephone to answer outside calls made by counsel and litigants.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-08 In re: TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF CLERK’S OFFICE PUBLIC COUNTERS

3/24/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: This General Order supplements General Orders 2020-02 and 2020-03.
All civil and criminal in-person proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, including court appearances, trials, hearings, and settlement conferences, scheduled to occur through May 1, 2020, with the exception of critical or emergency proceedings, are POSTPONED and CONTINUED, subject to the conditions set forth in this General Order. Additionally, the Court has updated its temporary restrictions regarding visitors to our courthouses.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-07 In re: EXTENSION TO THE MODIFICATIONS OF COURT OPERATIONS: SUPPLEMENT TO GENERAL ORDERS 2020-02 and 2020-03.

3/23/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: This General Order provides more detailed speedy trial findings regarding the temporary suspension of criminal jury trials and grand jury proceedings, as previously ordered in General Orders 2020-02 and 2002-03.

For more detailed information, please see General Order 2020-06, In re: ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER REGARDING COMPUTATION OF TIME UNDER THE SPEEDY TRIAL ACT, 18 U.S.C. § 3161

3/16/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Starting March 17th and continuing through March 31st, the Court has suspended all criminal and civil proceedings in each of our courthouses, with the exception of: (1) critical or emergency criminal and civil matters; and (2) any proceeding expressly excepted by order of the presiding judge.

Additionally, the Court has temporarily restricted certain visitors to our courthouses, to include those who have recently traveled to certain places with high levels of the virus, and those who have been, or are in close contact with a person who has been, instructed to self-quarantine by a physician or local health official.

For more detailed information please see General Order 2020-03 In re: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES CREATED BY THE OUTBREAK OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19): TEMPORARY CONTINUANCE OF COURT PROCEEDINGS AND RESTRICTIONS ON VISITORS TO COURTHOUSES

3/13/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Starting Monday, March 16, 2020 and continuing through April 17, 2020, all civil and criminal (grand and petit) jury empanelments, jury trials, and grand jury proceedings before any district or magistrate judge in any courthouse in the Eastern District of Virginia are CONTINUED until further Order of the Court, with the exception of the sessions of Grand Juries 20-1 and 20-2, which will continue in the Alexandria courthouse as scheduled.

For detailed information please see General Order 2020-02 In re: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES CREATED BY THE OUTBREAK OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19): JURY SELECTIONS, JURY TRIALS, AND GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS

3/12/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: All misdemeanor, traffic, and petty offense dockets scheduled in all Divisions of this Court from March 16, 2020, through April 30, 2020, are hereby CONTINUED.

Please see General Order No.2020-01 In re: COURT OPERATIONS UNDER THE EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES CREATED BY THE OUTBREAK OF CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19): MISDEMEANOR, TRAFFIC, AND PETTY OFFENSE DOCKETS FOR ALL DIVISIONS OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

3/10/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Given concerns about the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and precautions recommended by the CDC in areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Court has decided to suspend non-case related outside events, tours, and other gatherings in our courthouses. The Court has also decided to postpone all naturalization ceremonies for the remainder of March 2020, and will decide in the near future whether to resume naturalization ceremonies in April or postpone them further. If you have questions about the decision to postpone these naturalization ceremonies, please contact U.S. Customs and Immigration Services.

The Court thanks you for your patience and understanding as we all work through these challenging times and seek to protect the health of all courthouse visitors and occupants. Chief Judge Mark S. Davis

2/5/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Randomly Drawing Names For Summonsing Jurors. Read more about it here.

1/27/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Notice of Reappointment of Magistrate Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan at Alexandria, Virginia: Current term of office is due to expire on September 11, 2020. Comments from members of the bar and public are invited as to whether the Merit Selection Panel should recommend that the incumbent magistrate judge be reappointed. Details here.

Notice of Reappointment of Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard, at Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia: Current term of office is due to expire on September 30, 2020. Comments from members of the bar and public are invited as to whether the Merit Selection Panel should recommend that the incumbent magistrate judge be reappointed. Details here.

1/2/20
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Increases in CJA Hourly Rates, effective January 1, 2020. Read more about it here.

12/23/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Order of Closure – All divisions of the EDVA will be closed on Tuesday, December 24, 2019. See the order here

11/25/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: An amendment to Local Criminal Rule 12(A) takes effect today. Local Rule 12(A) was amended by adding a sentence to require counsel to confer before arraignment. Local Rules in PDF format can be found here

11/7/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: The new Criminal Justice Act Plan for the Eastern District of Virginia has been approved by the Judicial Council of the Fourth Circuit Court and is in effect. For a pdf of the plan, click here

10/29/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: The Alexandria Division will not have Friday Dockets on 11/29/2019 and 12/27/2019.
Confirm here >

10/17/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Proposed Local Rule Amendments; Call for Public Comments. Read more >

9/5/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Our hearts go out to those affected by Hurricane Dorian. We are fortunate here in Alexandria, to have been spared. THE NORFOLK AND NEWPORT NEWS COURTHOUSES WILL BE CLOSED FRI, 9/6 DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER ASSOCIATED W/HURRICANE DORIAN. Stay safe.
Read more >

6/27/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Effective Friday, June 28, the courthouse cafeteria is closing. There are talks underway about options for replacements, but until further notice, there will be no food or beverage service in the courthouse.
Read more >

6/21/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: The Alexandria Division docket set for Friday, August 30th will be advanced to Thursday, August, 29th. Please make note on your calendars.
Read more >

5/23/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Reaching the Courthouse by metro will be altered by major station improvements set to begin May 25.
Read more >

4/3/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: There are evidence presentation systems available at each courthouse enabling attorneys to present evidence simultaneously with their laptops to everyone in the courtroom through a system of interconnected LCD displays. Check here for availability and directions to follow to schedule use of the system
Read more >

3/21/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Effective 3/21/19 new procedures in regard to attorneys docketing civil returns of service take effect. Please follow the link for procedures.
Read more >

2/28/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Hourly Rates and Maximum Case Compensation Increases for CJA Attorneys Effective 2/15/19
Read more >

2/22/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Check out the EDVA manual on E-Filing Policies and Procedures. It provides procedures and instructions for using the ECF system to file documents with the Court and to view and retrieve docket sheets and documents for all civil, criminal and misc. cases in the system.
Read more >

2/15/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: The Eastern District of Virginia’s website will be unavailable from 6 pm Fri, 2/15 – 6 pm Sun, 2/17 for scheduled maintenance. In addition, the Court will be closed on Mon, 2/18 for President’s Day.
Read more >

1/22/19
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Operation of EDVA during the “lapse in appropriations.”
Read more >

12/11/18
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: “So be good for goodness sake!” Peruse the EDVA Code of Pretrial and Trial Conduct developed by The American College of Trial Lawyers for those of us just starting out or are new to this district.
Read more >
#rocketdocket

12/4/18
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: All federal courts in the Eastern District of Virginia will be closed on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, for a National Day of Mourning to honor the memory of former President George Herbert Walker Bush.
Read more >

12/1/18
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: History: At the request of the Eastern District Court for the State of VA, the Historical Society of the US District Court for the EDVA was established to help preserve its rich history. The Society published a book, From Marshall to Moussaoui: Federal Justice in the Easter District of Virginia. You may order a copy online from the publisher here.

11/28/18
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Alert for CM/ECF— Access to Case Information and Documents by Third Party Services.
Read more >

11/27/18
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: All EDVA courthouses will be closed on Monday, 12/24/18 and Monday, 12/31/18.The Alexandria Division will not have Friday dockets on 12/28/18.

11/15/18
ROCKET DOCKET UPDATE FROM DG: Proposed Local Rule Amendments/call for public comments: The Local Rules were last amended on April 17, 2018. At that time, Local Criminal Rule 12 was amended to reflect 11 to 14 days in the time allowed to file and respond to the listed pretrial motions. This made the time periods consistent with those in the Local Criminal Rule 47 (F) (1).
Read more >

11/5/18
DG Rocket Docket Update (the 1st in a series of updates from DiMuroGinsberg on happenings in the EDVA Rocket Docket): Effective 11/1/18 at Noon, new procedures in regard to the electronic filing of civil cases take effect.
Read more >

The Rocket Docket

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