Code of the District of Columbia

§ 11–947. Emergency authority to toll or delay proceedings.

(a) Tolling or Delaying Proceedings. —

(1) In general. — In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency situation requiring the closure of Superior Court or rendering it impracticable for the United States or District of Columbia Government or a class of litigants to comply with deadlines imposed by any Federal or District of Columbia law or rule that applies in the Superior Court, the chief judge of the Superior Court may exercise emergency authority in accordance with this section.

(2) Scope of authority. —

(A) The chief judge may enter such order or orders as may be appropriate to delay, toll, or otherwise grant relief from the time deadlines imposed by otherwise applicable laws or rules for such period as may be appropriate for any class of cases pending or thereafter filed in the Superior Court.

(B) The authority conferred by this section extends to all laws and rules affecting criminal and juvenile proceedings (including, pre-arrest, post-arrest, pretrial, trial, and post-trial procedures) and civil, family, domestic violence, probate and tax proceedings.

(3) Unavailability of chief judge. — If the chief judge of the Superior Court is absent or disabled, the authority conferred by this section may be exercised by the judge designated under section 11-907(a) or by the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration.

(4) Habeas corpus unaffected. — Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

(b) Criminal Cases. — In exercising the authority under this section for criminal cases, the chief judge shall consider the ability of the United States or District of Columbia Government to investigate, litigate, and process defendants during and after the emergency situation, as well as the ability of criminal defendants as a class to prepare their defenses.

(c) Issuance of Orders. — The United States Attorney for the District of Columbia or the Attorney General for the District of Columbia or the designee of either may request issuance of an order under this section, or the chief judge may act on his or her own motion.

(d) Duration of Orders. — An order entered under this section may not toll or extend a time deadline for a period of more than 14 days, except that if the chief judge determines that an emergency situation requires additional extensions of the period during which deadlines are tolled or extended, the chief judge may, with the consent of the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration, enter additional orders under this section in order to further toll or extend such time deadline.

(e) Notice. — Upon issuing an order under this section, the chief judge—

(1) shall make all reasonable efforts to publicize the order, including, when possible, announcing the order on the District of Columbia Courts Web site; and

(2) shall send notice of the order, including the reasons for the issuance of the order, to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives.

(f) Required Reports. — Not later than 180 days after the expiration of the last extension or tolling of a time period made by the order or orders relating to an emergency situation, the chief judge shall submit a brief report to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives, and the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration describing the orders, including—

(1) the reasons for issuing the orders;

(2) the duration of the orders;

(3) the effects of the orders on litigants; and

(4) the costs to the court resulting from the orders.

(g) Exceptions. — The notice under subsection (e)(2) and the report under subsection (f) are not required in the case of an order that tolls or extends a time deadline for a period of less than 14 days.


(Dec. 12, 2012, 126 Stat. 1611, Pub. L. 112-229, § 2(b)(1)(A).)