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The District of Columbia Court of Appeals was established by the U.S. Congress in 1970 as the highest court of the District of Columbiamarker. It is equivalent to a state supreme court, except that its power derives from Article I of the U.S. Constitution rather than from the inherent sovereignty of the states.


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. 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 certified by the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker, 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 promulgates its own rules.

Cases before the court are determined by randomly selected three-judge divisions, unless a hearing or rehearing before the court sitting en banc 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 sat on the division at the original hearing. Pursuant to statute, 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 the business of the court so requires.

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.

As of January 2009, the current judges are:

The retired senior judges are Anice M. Wagner, Theodore R. Newman, William C. Pryor, John W. Kern, III,James A. Belson, Michael W. Farrell,John M. Ferren, Warren R. King, John M. Steadman, John A. Terry, and Frank E. Schwelb.

See also

Note that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is a federal appellate court, which hears appeals from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The D.C. Court of Appeals is the highest D.C. court, not a federal court, and hears appeals from the D.C. Superior Court and several D.C. agencies.

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