Code of the District of Columbia

§ 1–204.31. Judicial powers.

(a) The judicial power of the District is vested in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Superior Court has jurisdiction of any civil action or other matter (at law or in equity) brought in the District and of any criminal case under any law applicable exclusively to the District. The Superior Court has no jurisdiction over any civil or criminal matter over which a United States court has exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to an Act of Congress. The Court of Appeals has jurisdiction of appeals from the Superior Court and, to the extent provided by law, to review orders and decisions of the Mayor, the Council, or any agency of the District. The District of Columbia courts shall also have jurisdiction over any other matters granted to the District of Columbia courts by other provisions of law.

(b) The chief judge of a District of Columbia court shall be designated by the District of Columbia Judicial Nominating [Nomination] Commission established by § 1-204.34 from among the judges of the court in regular active service, and shall serve as chief judge for a term of four years or until a successor is designated, except that the term as chief judge shall not extend beyond the chief judge’s term as a judge of a District of Columbia court. An individual shall be eligible for redesignation as chief judge.

(c) A judge of a District of Columbia court appointed on or after the date of enactment of the District of Columbia Court Reorganization Act of 1970 [July 29, 1970] shall be appointed for a term of fifteen years subject to mandatory retirement at age seventy-four or removal, suspension, or involuntary retirement pursuant to § 1-204.32 and upon completion of such term, such judge shall continue to serve until reappointed or a successor is appointed and qualifies. A judge may be reappointed as provided in subsection (c) of § 1-204.33.

(d)(1) There is established a District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure (hereinafter referred to as the “Tenure Commission”). The Tenure Commission shall consist of seven members selected in accordance with the provisions of subsection (e). Such members shall serve for terms of six years, except that the member selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(A) shall serve for five years; of the members first selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(B), one member shall serve for three years and one member shall serve for six years; of the members first selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(C), one member shall serve for a term of three years and one member shall serve for five years; the member first selected in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(D) shall serve for six years; and the member first appointed in accordance with subsection (e)(3)(E) shall serve for six years. In making the respective first appointments according to subsections (e)(3)(B) and (e)(3)(C), the Mayor and the Board of Governors of the unified District of Columbia Bar shall designate, at the time of such appointments, which member shall serve for the shorter term and which member shall serve for the longer term.

(2) The Tenure Commission shall act only at meetings called by the Chairman or a majority of the Tenure Commission held after notice has been given of such meeting to all Tenure Commission members.

(3) The Tenure Commission shall choose annually, from among its members, a Chairman and such other officers as it may deem necessary. The Tenure Commission may adopt such rules of procedures not inconsistent with this chapter as may be necessary to govern the business of the Tenure Commission.

(4) The District government shall furnish to the Tenure Commission, upon the request of the Tenure Commission, such records, information, services, and such other assistance and facilities as may be necessary to enable the Tenure Commission properly to perform its functions. Information so furnished shall be treated by the Tenure Commission as privileged and confidential.

(e)(1) No person may be appointed to the Tenure Commission unless such person —

(A) is a citizen of the United States;

(B) is a bona fide resident of the District and has maintained an actual place of abode in the District for at least ninety days immediately prior to appointment; and

(C) is not an officer or employee of the legislative branch or of an executive or military department or agency of the United States (listed in sections 101 and 102 of title 5 of the United States Code); and (except with respect to the person appointed or designated according to paragraph (3)(E)) is not an officer or employee of the judicial branch of the United States, or an officer or employee of the District government (including its judicial branch).

(2) Any vacancy on the Tenure Commission shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made. Any person so appointed to fill a vacancy occurring other than upon the expiration of a prior term shall serve only for the remainder of the unexpired term of such person’s predecessor.

(3) In addition to all other qualifications listed in this section, lawyer members of the Tenure Commission shall have the qualifications prescribed for persons appointed as judges of the District of Columbia courts. Members of the Tenure Commission shall be appointed as follows:

(A) One member shall be appointed by the President of the United States.

(B) Two members shall be appointed by the Board of Governors of the unified District of Columbia Bar, both of whom shall have been engaged in the practice of law in the District for at least five successive years preceding their appointment.

(C) Two members shall be appointed by the Mayor, one of whom shall not be a lawyer.

(D) One member shall be appointed by the Council, and shall not be a lawyer.

(E) One member shall be appointed by the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and such member shall be an active or retired Federal judge serving in the District.

No person may serve at the same time on both the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission and on the District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.

(f) Members of the Tenure Commission shall serve without compensation for services rendered in connection with their official duties on the Commission.

(g) The Tenure Commission shall have the power to suspend, retire, or remove a judge of a District of Columbia court as provided in § 1-204.32 and to make recommendations regarding the appointment of senior judges of the District of Columbia courts as provided in § 11-1504.


(Dec. 24, 1973, 87 Stat. 792, Pub. L. 93-198, title IV, § 431; Oct. 13, 1977, 91 Stat. 1155, Pub. L. 95-131, § 3(a); Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 3142, Pub. L. 98-598, § 2(b); Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3228, Pub. L. 99-573, § 4; June 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 713, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 2(b)(1), 2(b)(2), 2(b)(3); Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321-91, Pub. L. 104-134, § 133(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 431.

1973 Ed., Title 11, appx., § 431.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 11-908A.