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District of Columbia Superior Court

NCJ Number
Catholic University Law Review Volume: 28 Issue: 4 Dated: (1979) Pages: 717-729
H C Moultrie
Date Published
13 pages
The organizational structure of the recently created Superior Court of the District of Columbia is presented; changes in operation, court divisions, and future plans are emphasized.
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia was created by the Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970, which consolidated the three existing trial courts and transferred jurisdiction over local matters to the superior court to handle both civil and criminal matters. The court thus represents the only unified court system in the United States. The goal of the act was to eliminate backlogs and to allow speedier processing of criminal cases, as well as to move the District of Columbia toward home rule. Forty-four judges were authorized for the court. The reorganization effort is finished, and the unified court now operates in five divisions. The divisions include civil, criminal, family, probate, and tax. Several changes in court procedures have been made in the criminal division, resulting in reduction of the serious misdemeanor caseload. The traffic calendar is another area in which improved scheduling has had a positive impact on case backlog. Changes in the rules of landlord-tenant court have similarly improved the civil division backlog. Family division efforts have included review of all neglect cases transferred from the old juvenile court and the establishment of voluntary settlement conference procedures for domestic relations cases. The social services division is the arm of the court which administers necessary ancillary social service programs. At present, a number of innovations are being considered to improved court system operations, including the promulgation of an operations manual, expansion of the use of technology, evaluation of library services, and creation of a citizen's advisory committee. Footnotes are included.