District of Columbia Courts

District of Columbia, also known as Washington D.C, is the seat of federal government.  The objectives of the District of Columbia Courts is to protect rights and liberties of people, uphold and interpret the law according to the constitution, and resolve disputes peacefully, and fairly in the U.S. capital.

The judiciary of District of Columbia is comprised of the Court of Appeals, which is the court of last resort in the district, and the Superior Court of District of Columbia, which is the trial court of general jurisdiction.

The highest court in the state is the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.[i] The term ‘state court’ in the Supreme Court Rules refers to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.  The term ‘statute of the state’ includes all the statutes of the District of Columbia.

According to the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970, a separate local court system is present in the state.[ii] The criminal or civil actions occurring under the District of Columbia law are now heard by the district’s new trial court, the Superior Court.  The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to review decisions of the Superior Court.

According to the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the cases from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals through a certiorari petition.[iii] Pursuant to the Act, appeals are no longer taken from the local District of Columbia courts to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then to the Supreme Court of the United States.

[i] 28 USCS § 1257

[ii] Rieser v. District of Columbia, 580 F.2d 647 (D.C. Cir. 1978)

[iii] 28 USCS § 1257


Inside District of Columbia Courts