District of Columbia

State/Local Funding

  • The District of Columbia’s Judiciary is a federally funded system. 
  • The federal government pays for the salaries of judges, support staff and clerical staff and for trial and appellate court technology, operating expenses, local courthouses and equipment.

State Revenue and Appropriations

  • Total Judicial system appropriations increased from $293.1 million in FY12 to $294.2 million in FY13.  Not counting grants, federal funding increased from $287.8 million to $289.6 million.

                 1.  For FY13, the D.C. Courts are financed by a six-month continuing resolution.  The FY13 appropriation
                      amount, above, annualizes this funding.

  • Over the past four years, technology funding has increased 8%.
  • The D.C. Courts’ budget situation over the next three years is likely to get worse.

Funding Principles for Judicial Administration

  • The Courts present their budget directly to the US Congress and the Office of Management (OMB).  The local legislature is provided a copy.
  • The Courts have the authority to move funds between line items.
  • The FY13 budget enables the courts to provide and enhance necessary technology. 
  • The introduction of technology has enabled the courts to provide enhanced services to other agencies.  The Courts have worked with agencies to create computer interfaces for e-filing, warrants and shared information.  These interfaces reduce duplicative data entry and improve the quality of court data.  A new website provides public information in a more user-friendly format.  Live web chats provide public information.

Steps Taken to Address Tough Economic Tim es

Staffing Levels and Operating Expenses:  Over the past four years, while the number of judges has remained the same, the number of trial court staff has increased 3%, the number of central office staff has increased 7% and the funds available for trial court operating expenses has increased 10%.  Increases have focused on juvenile probation services.  No changes to staffing levels will be made in the coming year.

Service Reductions:  The D.C. Courts have deferred capital projects and plan to do so in FY13. 

Compensation:  Over the past four years, Congress has frozen judicial salaries.  Court staff will not receive cost of living increases in the coming year

Efficiency Measures:  The D.C. Courts have implemented e-filing, an enhanced case management system, electronic workflow and e-payment of fees and fines.  They have implemented a virtual self-help center and a virtual web-based information center to provide public access to court records.  They have enabled law enforcement to file e-citations.  The courts automated issuance of warrants using online video conferencing.  Submission and payment of court-appointed attorney vouchers has been automated, along with internal processes.

Restructuring:  The D.C. Courts have reallocated staff and make use of part-time and off-hours workers.

Business Processes:  The courts have implemented and continue to implement an enhanced caseflow management program.

Centralization:  As a unified court in a geographically small jurisdiction, the D.C. Courts are fully centralized.

The D.C. Courts are in a better position than four years ago to provide access and timely justice.  They have undertaken numerous initiatives since FY2009, including the creation of self-help centers for unrepresented parties, in cooperation with the D.C. Bar; implementation of time standards for trial cases; adoption of courtwide performance measures; increased information available on the Courts’ website; increased outreach to the community; expanded community courts and other problem solving courts (such as family treatment and mental health courts); and increased automation.

Reports and Articles

Gavel to Gavel

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