Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. Appointment; Qualifications; Service of Judges.


§ 11–1501. Appointment and qualifications of judges.

(a) The President of the United States shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint all judges of the District of Columbia courts. The President shall have power to fill all vacancies that may occur in those courts during a recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of the next session of the Senate.

(b) A person may not be appointed a judge of a District of Columbia court unless that person —

(1) is a citizen of the United States;

(2)(A) is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and (B) (i) has been a member of such bar for a period of at least five years, or (ii) in the case of a professor of law in a law school in the District of Columbia or of an attorney employed in the District of Columbia by the United States or the District of Columbia, has been eligible for membership in the bar of the District of Columbia for at least five years prior to appointment;

(3) has been actively engaged, for at least five of the ten years immediately prior to appointment, as an attorney in the practice of law in the District of Columbia, as a judge of a District of Columbia court, as a professor of law in a law school in the District of Columbia, or as an attorney employed in the District of Columbia by the United States or the District of Columbia; and

(4) is a bona fide resident of the area consisting of the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax Counties (and any cities within the outer boundaries thereof) and the city of Alexandria in Virginia and has maintained an actual place of abode in such area for at least five years prior to appointment.

During term of service and for one year after the termination thereof, no member of the District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure shall be eligible for nomination or appointment to a District of Columbia court.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 491, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111; Dec. 7, 1970, 84 Stat. 1390, Pub. L. 91-530, § 2(a)(4); June 13, 1994, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 1(b)(18), (19), 108 Stat. 713.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-1501.

1973 Ed., § 11-1501.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-204.33.

Cross References

District Charter provisions relating to District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission, see § 1-204.34.

District Charter provisions relating to nomination and appointment of judges, see § 1-204.33.

Editor's Notes

Vacancies in certain District courts on July 29, 1970: Section 195(c) of Pub. L. 91-358 provided for the qualifications and 15-year term of office of any judge appointed to fill any vacancy which existed on July 29, 1970, in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions, or the Juvenile Court of the District of Columbia.

Supersedure of section: The provisions of this section have been superseded by § 433 of the District Charter (See the Appendix to Title II).

Appointment of additional judges to Court of Appeals: Section 195(a)(1) of Pub. L. 91-358 provided for the appointment of 3 additional judges to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, by the President of the United States and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve a term of 15 years.

Appointment of additional judges to Court of General Sessions: Section 195(a)(2) of Pub. L. 91-358 provided for the appointment of 10 additional judges to the District of Columbia Court of General Sessions, by the President of the United States and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve a term of 15 years.

Appointment of Executive Officer: Section 195(b) of Pub. L. 91-358 provided for the appointment, and compensation, and removal of the Executive Officer of the District of Columbia courts.

Termination of Federal Disclosure Requirements: See Pub. L. 99-573, § 6.


§ 11–1502. Tenure.

Subject to mandatory retirement at age 74 and to the provisions of subchapters II and III of this chapter, 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 shall serve for a term of fifteen years, and upon completion of such term, such judge shall continue to serve until the judge’s successor is appointed and qualifies.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 491, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111; Mar. 19, 1984, 98 Stat. 65, Pub. L. 98-235; June 13, 1994, Pub. L. 103-266, § 1(b)(20), 108 Stat. 713.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-1502.

1973 Ed., § 11-1502.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 11-1562.

Cross References

District Charter provisions relating to tenure of judges, see § 1-204.31.

Eligibility for retirement after ten years of service, see § 11-1562.

References in Text

The date of enactment of the District of Columbia Court Reorganization Act of 1970, referred to in this section, is July 29, 1970.


§ 11–1503. Designation of Chief Judge.

(a) The chief judge of a District of Columbia court shall be designated by the President of the United States from among the judges of the court in regular active service, and shall serve for a term of four years or until a successor is designated. The chief judge shall be eligible for redesignation. The chief judge may relinquish that position, after giving notice to the President.

(b) If a chief judge is not redesignated, or relinquishes the office of chief judge, that person shall continue as an associate judge.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 491, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111; June 13, 1994, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 1(b)(21), (22), 108 Stat. 713.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-1503.

1973 Ed., § 11-1503.

Cross References

District Charter provisions relating to designation of chief judge of a District of Columbia court, see § 1-204.31.


§ 11–1504. Services of retired judges.

(a)(1) A judge, retired for reasons other than disability, who has been favorably recommended and appointed as a senior judge, in accordance with subsection (b), may perform such judicial duties as such senior judge is assigned and willing and able to undertake. A senior judge shall be subject to reappointment every four years, unless the Senior Judge has reached his or her seventy-fourth birthday, whereupon review shall be at least every two years, in accordance with subsection (b). Except as provided under this section, retired judges may not perform judicial duties in District of Columbia courts.

(2) At any time prior to or not later than one year after retirement, a judge may request recommendation from the District of Columbia Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure (hereinafter in this section referred to as the “Commission”) to be appointed as a senior judge in accordance with this section; except that any retired judge shall have not less than 180 days from the effective date of this Act to file a request for an initial recommendation from the Commission.

(b)(1) A retired judge willing to perform judicial duties may request a recommendation as a senior judge from the Commission. Such judge shall submit to the Commission such information as the Commission considers necessary to a recommendation under this subsection.

(2) The Commission shall submit a written report of its recommendations and findings to the appropriate chief judge and the judge requesting appointment within 180 days of the date of the request for recommendation. The Commission, under such criteria as it considers appropriate, shall make a favorable or unfavorable recommendation to the appropriate chief judge regarding an appointment as senior judge. The recommendation of the Commission shall be final.

(3) The appropriate chief judge shall notify the Commission and the judge requesting appointment of such chief judge’s decision regarding appointment within 30 days after receipt of the Commission’s recommendation and findings. The decision of such chief judge regarding such appointment shall be final.

(c) A judge may continue to perform judicial duties upon retirement, without appointment as a senior judge, until such judge’s successor assumes office.

(d) A retired judge, actively performing judicial duties as of the date of enactment of the District of Columbia Retired Judge Service Act, may continue to perform such judicial duties as he or she may be willing and able to assume, subject to the approval of the appropriate chief judge, for a period not to exceed one year from the date of enactment of such Act, without appointment as a senior judge.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 491, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111; Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 3142, Pub. L. 98-598, § 2(a); Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3228, Pub. L. 99-573, §§ 14(a), (b).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-1504.

1973 Ed., § 11-1504.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 1-204.31 and § 11-908A.

References in Text

“The effective date of this Act,” referred to in subsection (a)(2), is October 28, 1986.

The “District of Columbia Retired Judge Service Act,” referred to in subsection (d), is Public Law 98-598.


§ 11–1505. Vacations.

(a) Each judge of the District of Columbia courts shall be entitled to an annual vacation of not more than 30 calendar days. Such vacation shall be taken at such time or times as prescribed by the chief judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for judges of that court and by the chief judge of the Superior Court for judges of that court. Time spent by a judge as a member of any conference, committee, or commission established by law shall not be deducted from the judge’s vacation period.

(b) In determining when a judge shall take a vacation, and the length thereof, the chief judge exercising authority under this section shall be mindful of the necessity of retaining sufficient judicial personnel in the court under the chief judge’s supervision to permit at all times the prompt and effective disposition of the business of such court.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 492, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111; June 13, 1994, Pub. L. 103-266, §§ 1(b)(23), (24), 108 Stat. 713.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-1505.

1973 Ed., § 11-1505.

Cross References

D.C. retirement funds, transition from District of Columbia Administration, see § 1-819.01.

Judges, tenure, see § 11-1502.