Much of the District of Columbia’s power and authority over its courts derives from laws passed by Congress, as reflected in their judicial selection process. Under existing law, the President appoints judges from a list of names submitted by a judicial nomination commission, subject to Senate confirmation (see D.C. Code 1-204.31 and 1-204.33)
B19-0033, however, would remove the power of the power of the President to name judges and the Senate to confirm. The bill amends the District Charter to provide the Districts’ judges are to be selected by the Mayor with the consent of the Council. It further removes the power of the judicial nominating commission to name the chief judges of the Superior Court and Court of Appeals and gives it to the judges of the respective courts. It further removes the power of the President and chief judge of the U.S. District Court for D.C. to name members of the judicial nominating commission. Finally, it requires all judges be residence of the District and have resided in the District at least 5 years (currently, under D.C. Code 11-1501 they may reside in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax Counties “and any cities within the outer boundaries thereof and the city of Alexandria in Virginia.”)
B19-0033 is currently pending in the Council’s Judiciary Committee.
Another D.C. bill of note is B19-0008, which creates a Central Collection Unit within the Office of the City Administrator to collect all debts owed the District, including court courts. That bill is pending in the Government Operations and the Environment Committee.