Early court closures cause minor headaches for lawyers - The Daily Progress: News

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Early court closures cause minor headaches for lawyers

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Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 9:48 pm | Updated: 10:26 am, Fri Jan 4, 2013.

Local government closings on Dec. 26 and Dec. 31 provided additional time off for some, but created a legal nightmare for attorneys rushing to file time-sensitive end of the year documents.

"It certainly created havoc," real estate attorney Bill Tucker said of the closings. "We only had the 27th and 28th to record anything before year end."

Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville followed Gov. Bob McDonnell's lead and closed government offices the day after Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Local governments, not the clerk's office, determined the closings, according to Albemarle County clerk Debra M. Shipp and Charlottesville clerk Llezelle Dugger.

Shipp said the last two business days of the year in her office were "especially busy."

"We certainly had a lot of real estate closings on the 28th," Dugger said, adding that her office was busy in the weeks leading up to the holiday as well.

A founding partner at Tucker Griffin Barnes, Tucker said his office hired a temporary staff member to help get everything filed in time.

"Anybody that has recordings to do, anyone who had a real estate transaction had a problem with the clerk's office," he said.

Attorney Lewis Martin, however, said the additional closings did not keep him from getting his filings done in time for the New Year.

"As long as we have lead time we can get that done," he said. "From a practical standpoint, it's always nice to have an extra day," he added.

Lawyers often rush to the courthouse at the end of the month to keep from accruing per diem interest on home loans, which accumulates from the day of closing to the first day of the following month. The end of the year is an especially difficult time for real estate lawyers as some homeowners rush to unload property for tax reasons.

"Real estate is typically a very big asset that people want to sell by the end of the year," said attorney Cheri Lewis.

Shipp said that this is the first year she remembers a Dec. 26 closure, but said her office has been closed on New Year's Eve before.

"I think it all depends what day it falls on," she said.

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