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District of Columbia Court of Appeals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
D.C. Court of Appeals.JPG
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals is located in the former D.C. City Hall, a National Historic Landmark.
LocationDistrict of Columbia City Hall, Judiciary Square, Washington, DC
Composition methodPresidential nomination with Senate confirmation
Authorized byDerived from the United States Congress
Appeals toSupreme Court of the United States (in matters of federal law only)
Judge term length15 years
Number of positions9
Chief judge
CurrentlyAnna Blackburne-Rigsby
SinceMarch 17, 2017

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals is the highest court of the District of Columbia, in the United States. Established in 1970, it is equivalent to a state supreme court, except that its authority is derived from the United States Congress rather than from the inherent sovereignty of the states. The court is located in the former District of Columbia City Hall building at Judiciary Square. The D.C. Court of Appeals should not be confused with the District's federal appellate court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The D.C. Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia comprise the District's local court system.


For much of the history of the District of Columbia, appeals in local matters were adjudicated by federal courts: first the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia (1801-1863), then the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia (1863-1893) (later renamed the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), and finally the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (1893-1970) (later renamed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit).[1] The first local appellate court was established in 1942 when Congress created the Municipal Court of Appeals to hear appeals from the D.C. Municipal Court and the Juvenile Court. Consisting of a Chief Judge and two Associate Judges, the Municipal Court of Appeals acted as an intermediate appellate court, its decisions reviewable on a discretionary basis by the D.C. Circuit. In 1962, Congress renamed the court the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and in 1967 its membership was enlarged to six judges.[1]

Federal and local jurisdiction in the D.C. remained entangled until 1970, when Congress enacted the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act. In addition to establishing the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the Act established the District of Columbia Court of Appeals as the "highest court for the District of Columbia," expanded its is size to its present composition of nine judges, and broadened its jurisdiction to hear all appeals from the Superior Court and review decisions of the city's mayor and administrative agencies.[1]


As the court of last resort for the District of Columbia, the Court of Appeals is authorized to review all final orders, judgments, and specified interlocutory orders of the associate judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, as well as decisions of certain D.C. agencies. The court also has jurisdiction to review decisions of administrative agencies, boards, and commissions of the District government, as well as to answer questions of law presented by the Supreme Court of the United States, a United States court of appeals, or the highest appellate court of any state. As authorized by Congress, the court reviews proposed rules of the trial court and develops its own rules for proceedings.

Cases before the court are determined by randomly selected three-judge divisions, unless a hearing or rehearing before the court sitting en banc (with all judges present) is ordered. A hearing or rehearing before the court sitting en banc may be ordered by a majority of the judges in regular active service, generally only when consideration by the full court is necessary to maintain uniformity of its decisions, or when the case involves a question of exceptional importance. The en banc court consists of the nine judges of the court in regular active service, except that a retired judge may sit to rehear a case or controversy if he or she heard the original hearing. The Chief Judge may designate and assign temporarily one or more judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to serve on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals when required.

Clinton taking oath as Secretary of State
District of Columbia Court of Appeals Associate Judge Kathryn A. Oberly observes as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is sworn to office, while Bill Clinton holds the Bible.
(January 21, 2009)

Members of the court are empowered to adjudicate the oath of office ceremony for the executive cabinet of the President.

In the exercise of its inherent power over members of the legal profession, the court established the District of Columbia Bar and has the power to approve the rules governing attorney disciplinary proceedings. The court also reviews the rules of professional conduct and has established rules governing the admission of members of the District of Columbia Bar and the resolution of complaints concerning the unauthorized practice of law in the District of Columbia.


The court consists of a chief judge and eight associate judges. The court is assisted by the service of retired judges who have been recommended and approved as senior judges. Despite being the District's local appellate court, judges are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for 15-year terms.[2]

Active judges

As of August 22, 2020:

Title Judge Born Term began Term ends Chief Senior Appointed by
Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby[3] 1961 2006[4] 2021 2017[5]–present G.W. Bush
Judge Stephen H. Glickman[6] 1948 1999[6] 2029 Clinton
Judge Phyllis D. Thompson[7] 1952 2006[7] 2021 G.W. Bush
Judge Corinne A. Beckwith[8] 1963 2011 2026 Obama
Judge Catharine F. Easterly[9] 1970 2012 2027 Obama
Judge Roy W. McLeese III[10] 1959 2012 2027 Obama
Judge Joshua Deahl 1981 2020 2035 Trump
Judge vacant
Judge vacant
Senior Judge Frank Q. Nebeker 1930 1969 1987 1987–present Nixon
Senior Judge John M. Ferren 1937 1977 1997 1999–present Carter
Senior Judge John M. Steadman 1930 1985 2004 2004–present Reagan
Senior Judge Vanessa Ruiz 1950 1994 2011 2012–present Clinton
Senior Judge Eric T. Washington 1953 1999 2017 2017–present Clinton
Senior Judge John R. Fisher 1946 2006 2020 2020–present G.W. Bush

Vacancies and pending nominations

Seat Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee[11] Date of nomination
Kathryn A. Oberly Retirement November 1, 2013 Tovah R. Calderon June 15, 2021
John R. Fisher August 22, 2020[12]
Phyllis D. Thompson Term Expires September 4, 2021[citation needed] John P. Howard III August 5, 2021

Former judges

Judge Born–died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for termination
Catherine B. Kelly 1917–1995 1967–1983 Lyndon B. Johnson Resignation
Austin L. Fickling 1914–1977 1968–1977 Death
John W. Kern III 1928–2018 1968–1984 1984–2012 Retirement
George R. Gallagher 1915–2007 1968–1981 1981–2001 Retirement
Hubert Pair 1904–1999 1970–1974 1975–1988 Richard Nixon Death
Gerard D. Reilly 1906–1995 1970–1976 1972–1976 1976–1995 Death
J. Walter Yeagley 1909–1990 1970–1979 1979–1984 Retirement
Stanley S. Harris 1927–present 1972–1982 Appointed United States Attorney for the District of Columbia
Julia Cooper Mack 1920–2014 1975–1989 1989–2001 Gerald Ford Retirement
Theodore R. Newman Jr. 1934–present 1976–1991 1976–1984 1991–2016 Retirement
William C. Pryor 1932–2020 1979–1988 1984–1988 1988–2019 Jimmy Carter Retirement
James A. Belson 1931–present 1981–1991 1991–2017 Ronald Reagan Retirement
John A. Terry 1933–present 1982–2006 2006–2016 Retirement
Judith W. Rogers 1939–present 1983–1994 1988–1994 Appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Frank E. Schwelb 1932–2014 1988–2006 2006–2014 Retirement
Michael W. Farrell 1938–present 1989–2008 2009–2019 George H. W. Bush Retirement
Annice M. Wagner 1937–present 1990–2005 1994–2005 2005–2013 Retirement
Emmet G. Sullivan 1947–present 1991–1994 Appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Warren R. King 1937–present 1991–1998 1998–2016 Retirement
Inez Smith Reid 1937–present 1995–2011 2011–2017 Bill Clinton Retirement
Noël A. Kramer 1945–2018 2005–2011 George W. Bush Retirement
Kathryn A. Oberly 1950–present 2009–2013 Resignation

See also


  1. ^ a b c Newman, Theodore R. (1978). "The State of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals". Catholic University Law Review. 27 (3): 453–468.
  2. ^ "Judicial Selection in the States: District of Columbia". American Judicature Society. Archived from the original on 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  3. ^ Official Bio of Judge Blackburne-Rigsby
  4. ^ Former Superior Court Judge to become Judge on D.C. Court of Appeals
  5. ^ "Blackburne-Rigsby, Anna | District of Columbia Courts". Retrieved 2021-01-19.
  6. ^ a b "Official Bio of Judge Glickman" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
  7. ^ a b "Official Bio of Judge Thompson" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
  8. ^ "Official Bio of Judge Beckwith" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  9. ^ Official Bio of Judge Easterly
  10. ^ "Official Bio of Judge McLeese" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-06-14.
  11. ^ In June 2020, then-president Donald Trump nominated John P. Howard and Vijay Shanker to fill these seats, and he renominated them on January 3, 2021. On February 4, 2021, president Joe Biden withdrew those nominations.
  12. ^ "Notice of Judicial Vacancies on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals". December 6, 2019. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved June 26, 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 August 2021, at 12:39
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