District of Columbia Court Records
Court records are often necessary when researching genealogical histories for personal use or case histories before heading to court. District of Columbia court records are particularly useful when searching for court forms and past court decisions, or simply to conduct research on past criminal and civil cases.
Information regarding civil matters such as divorces is typically necessary to confirm marital status before remarrying or changing a name. It can also be helpful to determine dates of marriage for a person in your family tree. Criminal records provide information about the dates of court hearings, formal charges and dates of arrest, final court rulings and appeals information. These cases can provide vital insight into similar cases of interest before heading to court, or when verifying your own criminal court record history.
History of District of Columbia Court Records
The judicial courts of the District of Columbia were established in 1801, but the Superior Court and Court of Appeals were not created until the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970. District of Columbia court records have been created and maintained since the beginning of this judicial system, and can be researched at the Library of Congress.
District of Columbia Court Records Availability
The Library of Congress offers historical and current copies of the district’s constitution, as well as executive documents containing municipal regulations and statutes, elections history, oral arguments from the Attorney General and past mayoral decisions. Legislative records such as official codes and current laws are available, as well as court procedures and rules. Other judicial records include opinions from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and rulings from the District of Columbia Superior Court.
District of Columbia court records available from the court clerk include court forms as well as civil and criminal records that are searchable online. The Court Cases Online system offers court dockets, tax cases, probate information, major litigation, wills and proceedings from foreign estate cases. Cases can be found by searching a person or business name or case number.
Main Court Information
The District of Columbia Superior Court exercises general jurisdiction over trials in Washington D.C. This court was established in 1970 and has 86 total judges. Appeals from this trial court go to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. This court has 9 judges serving, and is the high appellate court for the region. It also exercises administrative authority over members of the bar. Cases are heard by randomly selected panels of three judges. The court meets in the Historic Courthouse in Washington, D.C.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals hears more than 1,000 cases per year. In 2007, there were 1,510 filings and 1,837 dispositions. In 2014 there were 1,538 filings and 1,846 dispositions. The highest caseload in recent years was in 2012 with 2,126 filings and 1,845 dispositions.