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Zimmerman's Research Guide


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District of Columbia - Judicial Branch

The D.C. judicial system is comprised of an appellate court, the D.C. Court of Appeals, and a trial court, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Information about the D.C. judicial system is posted on the D.C. Courts web site. For questions, call the D.C. Courts at 202-879-1010.

Note: The "Supreme Court of the District of Columbia" was actually a Federal court created in 1863; it became the "District Court for the District of Columbia" in 1936 and finally the "United States District Court for the District of Columbia" in 1948.

Case Law - Appellate: There are three sources for precedential appellate decisions in the District of Columbia: the D.C. Court of Appeals (1962-Present), the former D.C. Municipal Court of Appeals (1942-1962), and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (for policy decisions decided prior to 1971).

Precedential D.C. Court of Appeals decisions are published in the Atlantic Reporter and the Maryland Reporter. Precedential D.C. Court of Appeals decisions are posted free back to 1998 by the D.C. Courts.

You can search for all precedential decisions on Lexis (DC;DCAPP) and Westlaw (DC-CS). You can also search deep databases of D.C. cases for free through Google Scholar or through subscription services such as Loislaw and Fastcase.

Memorandum Opinions and Judgments: The D.C. Court of Appeals issues non-precedential Memorandum Opinions and Judgments (MOJs). The D.C. Courts site posts monthly lists of MOJs issued since September 1999. Case summaries (and full text for selected cases) are published in the Daily Washington Law Reporter; you can order copies of cases by calling the paper at 202-331-1700. Otherwise, you can get opinions and other filings from the Court (civil - 202-879-1968; criminal - 202-878-1373).

Historical appellate case reporters: Older cases were published in the District of Columbia Reports under the names of the various editors. These editions are listed in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and discussed in Legal Research in The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Case Law - Trial Court: Selected D.C. Superior Court opinions are published in the Daily Washington Law Reporter; subscribers can get opinions online, or you can order copies of cases by calling the paper's Opinions on Demand service at 410.244.6688. The Reporter staff will help locate the case. Otherwise, you can get opinions and other filings from the Court (civil - 202-879-1968; criminal - 202-878-1373).

Court Rules: The D.C. Courts post both Appellate Court Rules and Superior Court Rules and Rule Promulgation Orders. The Rules are searchable on Lexis (DC;DCRULE) and Westlaw (DC-RULES). They are published in Lexis D.C. Rules Annotated and West's District of Columbia Rules of Court (unannotated).

Docket Sheets D.C. Superior Court docket sheets for civil and criminal cases are available through the Court's web site (free), Courtlink, CourtExpress and Westlaw (DOCK-DC-SUPERIOR). See also the separate entry for "Docket Sheets."

Briefs & Other Filings: You can order documents for civil cases directly from the Superior Court by sending an email to CivilDocket@DCSC.GOV. For other branches of the Court, call 202-879-1010.

Lexis has databases for selected DC briefs and motions starting in 2000 (CRTFLS;DCMTBR). Westlaw has selected briefs from the DC Court of Appeals starting 2004 (DC-COA-BRIEF) and another for selected DC trial court pleadings and motions starting 1999 (DC-FILING). Courtlink has its own collection of court filings.

Alternatively, you can get copies of case filings by sending someone to the relevant clerk's office (call 202-879-1010 for more information). See also the separate entries for "Briefs" and "Forms."

Judicial Biographies: The Daily Washington Law Reporter posts judicial bios for D.C. Judges. See also the separate entry for "Judges."

Jury Instructions: D.C. jury instructions are published in Standardized Civil Jury Instructions for the District of Columbia and Criminal Jury Instructions for the District of Columbia, both published by LexisNexis. Both books are available on Lexis.com (DC;JURCDC and DC;DCJICR, respectively).

Practice Manuals: The District of Columbia Practice Manual (D.C. Bar) has chapters covering Superior Court Civil Practice, Small Claims, Criminal Practice, Personal Injury, etc. Other resources include the Trial Handbook for District of Columbia Lawyers (West), Practitioner's Handbook: Civil Practice in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (D.C. Bar) and Appellate Practice Manual for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals (D.C. Bar).

Trial Transcripts: To order trial transcripts, see the Court Reporting Division page of the D.C. Courts web site.


See Also
Briefs
Case Pulls
Court Clerks / Court Houses
Docket Sheets
Jury Instructions
Shepardizing
State Cases
State Court Rules
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Verdicts and Settlements

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2014 Andrew Zimmerman