Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter III. Miscellaneous Provisions.


§ 11–941. Issuance of warrants; record.

Subject to Title 23, judges of the Superior Court may, at any time, including Sundays and legal holidays, on complaint or application under oath or actual view, issue warrants for arrest, search or seizure, or electronic surveillance in connection with crimes and offenses committed within the District of Columbia, or for administrative inspections in connection with laws relating to the public health, safety, and welfare. Each proceeding respecting a warrant shall be recorded as prescribed by the court. Warrants shall be issued free of charge.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 487, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-941.

1973 Ed., § 11-941.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 8-231.05 and § 8-231.06.


§ 11–942. Subpenas [Subpoenas]

(a) The Superior Court may compel the attendance of witnesses by attachment. At the request of any party, subpenas [subpoenas] for attendance at a hearing or trial in the Superior Court shall be issued by the clerk of court. A subpena [subpoena] may be served at any place within the District of Columbia, or at any place without the District of Columbia that is within twenty-five miles of the place of the hearing or trial specified in the subpena [subpoena]. The form, issuance, and manner of service of the subpena [subpoena] shall be as prescribed by the rule of the court.

(b) A subpena [subpoena] in a criminal case in which a felony is charged may be served at any place within the United States upon order of a judge of the court.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 487, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-942.

1973 Ed., § 11-942.

Editor's Notes

Throughout the section, “subpoena” and “subpoenas” were inserted, in brackets, to correct misspellings.


§ 11–943. Process.

(a) All process other than a subpena [subpoena] may be served at any place within the District of Columbia, and, when authorized by statute or by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, at any place without the District of Columbia.

(b) Service upon a third-party defendant, upon a person whose joinder is needed for just adjudication, and upon persons required to respond to any order of commitment for civil contempt may be served at all places outside the District of Columbia that are not more than one hundred miles from the place of hearing or trial specified.

(c) The form, issuance, and manner of service of process shall be prescribed by rule of the court.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 487, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-943.

1973 Ed., § 11-943.

Editor's Notes

In subsection (a) of this section, “subpoena” was inserted, in brackets, to correct a misspelling.


§ 11–944. Contempt power.

(a) Subject to the limitation described in subsection (b), and in addition to the powers conferred by section 402 of title 18, United States Code, the Superior Court, or a judge thereof, may punish for disobedience of an order or for contempt committed in the presence of the court.

(b)(1) In any proceeding for custody of a minor child conducted in the Family Division of the Superior Court under paragraph (1) or (4) of section 11-1101, no individual may be imprisoned for civil contempt for more than 12 months (except as provided in paragraph (2)), pursuant to the contempt power described in subsection (a), for disobedience of an order or for contempt committed in the presence of the court. This limitation does not apply to imprisonment for criminal contempt or for any other criminal violation.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1), an individual who is charged with criminal contempt pursuant to paragraph (3) may continue to be imprisoned for civil contempt until the completion of such individual’s trial for criminal contempt, except that in no case may such an individual be imprisoned for more than 18 consecutive months for civil contempt pursuant to the contempt power described in subsection (a).

(3)(A) An individual imprisoned for 6 consecutive months for civil contempt for disobedience of an order in a proceeding described in paragraph (1) who continues to disobey such order may be prosecuted for criminal contempt for disobedience of such order at any time before the expiration of the 12-month period that begins on the first day of such individual’s imprisonment, except that an individual so imprisoned as of the date of the enactment of this subsection may be prosecuted under this subsection at any time during the 90-day period that begins on the date of the enactment of this subsection.

(B) The trial of an individual prosecuted for criminal contempt pursuant to this paragraph —

(i) shall begin not later than 90 days after the date on which such individual is charged with criminal contempt;

(ii) shall, upon the request of the individual, be a trial by jury; and

(iii) may not be conducted before the judge who imprisoned the individual for disobedience of an order pursuant to subsection (a).


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 487, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111; Sept. 23, 1989, 103 Stat. 633, Pub. L. 101-97, § 2(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-944.

1973 Ed., § 11-944.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 5-721.


§ 11–945. Oaths, affirmations, and acknowledgments.

Each judge and each employee of the Superior Court authorized by the chief judge may administer oaths and affirmations and take acknowledgments.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 487, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-945.

1973 Ed., § 11-945.


§ 11–946. Rules of court.

The Superior Court shall conduct its business according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (except as otherwise provided in Title 23) unless it prescribes or adopts rules which modify those Rules. Rules which modify the Federal Rules shall be submitted for the approval of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and they shall not take effect until approved by that court. The Superior Court may adopt and enforce other rules as it may deem necessary without the approval of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals if such rules do not modify the Federal Rules. The Superior Court may appoint a committee of lawyers to advise it in the performance of its duties under this section.


(July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 487, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 111.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 11-946.

1973 Ed., § 11-946.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-701.

Cross References

Admission to bar, rules, see § 11-2501.

Attachment and garnishment of wages, rules of procedure concerning, see § 16-581.

Criminal Division rules and regulations, see § 16-701.

District of Columbia Court of Appeals, rules, see § 11-743.

Process, see § 11-943.

Professional bondsmen, rules concerning, see § 23-1108.

Subpoenas, see § 11-942.

Superior Court rules, applicability to Small Claims and Conciliation Branch, see § 16-3901.

Tax Division rules and regulations, see § 11-1203.

Public assistance, action for support, responsible relatives, see § 4-213.01.


§ 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).)