How long should courts have to hold case records? Virginia considers easing its 10 year requirement.

Court cases generate paper, paper that must be held by the court as the case progresses. But what about when the case is concluded? States have a variety of retention “schedules”, some set by court rule and others by statute. In the case of Virginia, the state’s statute as it relates to District Court (the state’s lower trial court) is set for a possible revision.

Currently, ยง 16.1-69.55 provides for a general rule of 10 years, with exceptions depending on the type of case of up to 50 years for retention. HB 1451 would allow, at the discretion of the chief judge of a general district court, the clerk of that court to destroy documents currently under the 10-year rule to be destroyed 3 years after the conclusion of the case provided the records are either microfilmed or converted to an electronic format.

The new policy is at the recommendation of the Committee on District Courts and is prefiled in anticipation of the 2013 session.