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                                                       Calendar No. 258
107th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    107-108
_______________________________________________________________________




                   DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FAMILY COURT


                              ACT OF 2001

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              TO ACCOMPANY

                               H.R. 2657

TO AMEND TITLE 11, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CODE, TO REDESIGNATE THE FAMILY 
  DIVISION OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AS THE 
  FAMILY COURT OF THE SUPERIOR COURT, TO RECRUIT AND RETAIN TRAINED 
  AND EXPERIENCED JUDGES TO SERVE IN THE FAMILY COURT, TO PROMOTE 
  CONSISTENCY AND EFFICIENCY IN THE ASSIGNMENT OF JUDGES TO THE FAMILY 
  COURT AND IN THE CONSIDERATION OF ACTIONS AND PROCEEDINGS IN THE 
  FAMILY COURT, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES




                December 5, 2001.--Ordered to be printed
                               __________

                    U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
99-010                     WASHINGTON : 2001

                   COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

               JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN, Connecticut, Chairman
CARL LEVIN, Michigan                 FRED THOMPSON, Tennessee
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii              TED STEVENS, Alaska
RICHARD J. DURBIN, Illinois          SUSAN M. COLLINS, Maine
ROBERT G. TORRICELLI, New Jersey     GEORGE V. VOINOVICH, Ohio
MAX CLELAND, Georgia                 PETE V. DOMENICI, New Mexico
THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware           THAD COCHRAN, Mississippi
JEAN CARNAHAN, Missouri              ROBERT F. BENNETT, Utah
MARK DAYTON, Minnesota               JIM BUNNING, Kentucky
           Joyce A. Rechtschaffen, Staff Director and Counsel
                     Cynthia Gooen Lesser, Counsel
Marianne Clifford Upton, Staff Director and Chief Counsel, Oversight of 
   Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia
         Hannah S. Sistare, Minority Staff Director and Counsel
                   Johanna L. Hardy, Minority Counsel
  Mason C. Alinger, Minority Professional Staff Member, Oversight of 
   Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia
                     Darla D. Cassell, Chief Clerk

                            C O N T E N T S

                                                                   Page
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background.......................................................1
III. Legislative History.............................................10
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis.....................................11
  V. Cost Estimate of the Congressional Budget Office................16
 VI. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact.................................21
VII. Changes to Existing Law.........................................21
VIII.Appendix........................................................37

                                                       Calendar No. 258
107th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    107-108

======================================================================



 
             DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FAMILY COURT ACT OF 2001

                                _______
                                

                December 5, 2001.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Lieberman, from the Committee on Governmental Affairs, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2657]

    The Committee on Governmental Affairs, to which was 
referred the bill (H.R. 2657) to amend title 11, District of 
Columbia Code, to redesignate the Family Division of the 
Superior Court of the District of Columbia as the Family Court 
of the Superior Court, to recruit and retain trained and 
experienced judges to serve in the Family Court, to promote 
consistency and efficiency in the assignment of judges to the 
Family Court and in the consideration of actions and 
proceedings in the Family Court, and for other purposes, 
reports favorably thereon with amendments and recommends that 
the bill as amended do pass.

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    The purpose of H.R. 2657, the District of Columbia Family 
Court Act of 2001, is to amend title 11, District of Columbia 
Code, to redesignate the Family Division of the Superior Court 
of the District of Columbia as the Family Court of the Superior 
Court, to recruit and retain trained and experienced judges to 
serve in the Family Court, to promote consistency and 
efficiency in the assignment of judges to the Family Court and 
in the consideration of actions andproceedings in the Family 
Court, and for other purposes.

                             II. Background


  Crisis of abused and neglected children in the District of Columbia

    The crisis of abused and neglected children has challenged 
the District of Columbia for many years. The Washington Post 
reported recently that 229 children died between 1993 and 2000 
while under the watch of the city's child protective services 
agency, Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA).\1\ The role of 
the District of Columbia Superior Court in handling abused and 
neglected children attracted heightened scrutiny after 23-
month-old Brianna Blackmond, a child under court supervision, 
died in January 2000 at the hands of her mother's housemate 
only two weeks after a Superior Court judge returned the child 
to her troubled home without conducting a formal hearing.\2\ 
Although the District of Columbia Inspector General found in an 
April 30, 2001 report that Brianna's death could be traced to 
errors and omissions by officials throughout the District of 
Columbia government--not only the judge who handled the case--
including CFSA,\3\ the case raised concerns about how the 
Superior Court handled its abuse and neglect cases.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ `` `Protected' Children Died as Government Did Little; Critical 
Errors by City's Network Found in 40 Fatalities; Confidential Files 
Show Wide Patterns of Official Neglect,'' Washington Post, September 9, 
2001.
    \2\ `` `Failure After Failure'; Foster System Betrayed Brianna,'' 
Washington Post, February 21, 2000.
    \3\ ``Report of Investigation Into the Role of the Child and Family 
Services Agency and the Circumstances Leading to the Death of BB,'' 
District of Columbia Office of the Inspector General, April 30, 2001 
(OIG No. 2000-0227 (S)), pp. 6-7.
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    Abuse and neglect cases had been posing a serious challenge 
to the court for some time before Brianna's death. The sheer 
number of the cases had been steadily growing in number since 
the early 1990's due to the crack cocaine epidemic in the 
District of Columbia at that time.\4\ In 1992, the number of 
child abuse and neglect cases increased by more than 60 percent 
from the year before, from 833 \5\ to 1351; \6\ 1994 saw a 
similar jump, from 1376 \7\ the year before to 1786.\8\ The 
steady increase of this caseload was more than the family 
division judges could handle alone effectively. To help ease 
the docket, the chief judge assigned each of the 59 sitting 
judges a share of the child abuse and neglect caseload. As a 
result, judges outside the Family Division currently hear their 
abuse and neglect cases between their ``regular'' calendars, in 
some cases squeezed in during lunch breaks.\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\ ``Child Neglect, Abuse Up 60% in D.C.; Sharp Increase in Court 
Cases Linked to Crack Cocaine, Recession,'' Washington Post, May 20, 
1992.
    \5\ ``For D.C. Child Abuse Caseload, a Troubling Milestone,'' 
Washington Post, September 24, 1992.
    \6\ ``District Child Abuse Reports Arriving in Record Numbers,'' 
Washington Post, April 11, 1994.
    \7\ ``District Child Abuse Reports Arriving in Record Numbers,'' 
Washington Post, April 11, 1994.
    \8\ ``D.C. Court Workers Shocked by Child Sex-Abuse Case,'' 
Washington Post, April 25, 1994.
    \9\ ``D.C. Judges Try to Raise 3,200 Abused or Neglected 
Children,'' Washington Post, January 9, 1994.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In addition, the Superior Court has not been as effective 
as it could be in moving cases involving abused and neglected 
children. Currently, according to analysis done by the District 
of Columbia Superior Court in July 2001, there are 3592 abuse 
and neglect cases in review status that have been pending for 
two years or more, only 11 percent of which involve children 
living at home under the protective supervision of CFSA; all of 
the other more than 3200 cases involve children who have been 
removed from their homes.\10\ Moreover, the Superior Court 
indicated that it expected less than half of these long-
standing abuse and neglect review cases to be closed within 12 
months.\11\ The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) requires 
that, with certain exceptions, cases of children in foster care 
or other temporary placement must reach permanency within a 
certain timeframe, which is less than 2 years. It is impossible 
to know how many of these cases genuinely qualify under the 
ASFA exceptions that permit them to remain pending beyond the 
required deadlines.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\ ``Abuse and Neglect Caseload Data,'' District of Columbia 
Superior Court (unpublished), July 2001, p. 1.
    \11\ ``Abuse and Neglect Caseload Data,'' District of Colubmia 
Superior Court (unpublished), July 2001, p. 2 (based on an internal 
survey of the judges handling the outstanding cases.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The dispersal of abuse and neglect cases to all 59 judges 
and to some of the 18 senior judges of the Superior Court has 
contributed to these shortcomings. It has caused 
logisticalproblems for CFSA social workers, Office of Corporation 
Counsel attorneys, guardians ad litem, and others involved in child 
welfare who must be present for hearings in all of their cases.\12\ 
Hearings can take place at any time of the day, in any courtroom--
sometimes simultaneously--not only making it difficult for these 
individuals to attend all their hearings, but also making it hard for 
social workers to spend the necessary time in the field, visiting 
children and families. If the necessary participants are not present or 
have not had adequate preparation time, it can be difficult for judges 
to move cases forward.\13\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\ Written Testimony of Olivia Golden, Director of the District 
of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency, to the Senate Committee 
on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government 
Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, October 25, 
2001, at p. 9.
    \13\ ``Judges Describe Agonizing Decisions,'' Washington Post+, 
January 16, 2000.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    It is important to point out, however, that lapses on the 
part of CFSA cannot be laid solely at the doorstep of the 
Superior Court. The crisis of abused and neglected children in 
the District of Columbia can be traced largely to long-standing 
problems within CFSA and other city agencies dealing with child 
welfare. In 1989, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a 
class action lawsuit in federal court on behalf of all abused 
and neglected children in the District of Columbia to force 
reforms in the system. At that time, children awaiting foster 
care placements were left for days at a time in the office of 
the child and family services agency (then a division of the 
District of Columbia Department of Human Services) to sleep on 
the floor, chairs or cots,\14\ and the average stay in foster 
care for a District of Columbia child was nearly five years, 
more than three times the national average.\15\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\ ``Conditions `Shocking' for District Children Awaiting Foster 
Care; Welfare System Needs Leaders, Receivers Say,'' Washington Post, 
March 2, 1995.
    \15\ LaShawn A. v. Dixon, 762 F. Supp. 959, 968 (D.D.C. 1991).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    After the 1991 trial, United States District Judge Thomas 
Hogan found that as a result of indifference and poor 
management, the city had failed to comply with reasonable 
professional standards in almost every area of its child 
welfare system.\16\ Specifically, the court found that due to 
dire staffing and resource shortages, the child welfare agency 
had failed to conduct timely investigations of reports of 
neglect or abuse, failed to find appropriate placements for 
children, failed to monitor their care, and failed to ensure 
that these children had permanent homes. The Division was put 
into receivership in 1995,\17\ and emerged on July 15, 2001, 
after a May 21, 2001 order by Judge Hogan finding that the 
District had met preconditions to regain control of CFSA set by 
an earlier order. The preconditions included prohibiting budget 
cuts and layoffs; increasing the number of home visits by 
social workers; passing legislation that would place the 
responsibility for investigating abuse and neglect cases with 
Child and Family Services rather than splitting the duty 
between the police and the agency; developing licensing 
standards for foster care and group homes; and elevating the 
agency to cabinet-level status.\18\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \16\ 762 F. Supp. at 982-983.
    \17\ LaShawn A. v. Kelly, 887 F. Supp. 297 (D.D.C. 1995).
    \18\ ``D.C. Regains Control of Foster Care; Child Welfare Goes to a 
New Agency,'' Washington Post, October 24, 2001.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Unfortunately, according to a December 2000 report by the 
United States General Accounting Office (GAO), federal 
receivership did not offer the solution the LaShawn plaintiffs 
had sought in 1989.\19\ GAO found that more than five years 
after the inception of the receivership, CFSA had still not 
addressed its problems with high turnover, hiring shortfalls, 
and inadequate training. As of one year ago, caseloads were 
still much too high: in some cases, double or triple the limit 
set by the court. While the number of children under the 
agency's care increased, the number of social workers covering 
their cases declined: in December 1997, 2,900 children were in 
foster care with 289 social workers at the agency; by August 
2000, 3,271 children were in foster care with only 241 social 
workers employed by the District to address their needs.\20\ 
Thus, child welfare reform cannot be complete without resolving 
these long-standing problems at CFSA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \19\ ``District of Columbia Child Welfare: Long-Term Challenges to 
Ensuring Children's Well-Being,'' GAO Report to the House of 
Representatives Committee on Government Reform Subcommittee on the 
District of Columbia, December 2000 (GAO-01-91) (``GAO Report'').
    \20\ GAO Report at p. 7.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nevertheless, the tragic death of Brianna Blackmond put a 
fresh face on the crisis. A media spotlight on a Superior Court 
judge's decision to return the child to her troubled home 
without a hearing sparked interest in addressing the court's 
administration of abuse and neglect cases. Unlike CFSA, which 
is under District control, Superior Court reform can only be 
legislated by Congress.

        Family matters and the District of Columbia court system

    The District of Columbia local court system is a federal 
responsibility pursuant to Congress' constitutional authority 
over the District.\21\ It was created by statute in 1801, and 
since that time, has gone through a number of reforms.\22\ For 
over 60 years, the District of Columbia court system had a 
separate Juvenile Court, which had jurisdiction over cases 
regarding children under 18, contributing to the delinquency of 
minors, paternity matters, and later, cases of desertion and 
criminal non-support, \23\ though many family cases, including 
divorce, adoption, custody and domestic violence, were heard by 
the Court of General Sessions.\24\ According to Congresswoman 
Eleanor Holmes Norton, one of the House sponsors of the 
District of Columbia Family Court Act, ``[t]he old Family 
Court, then called `Juvenile Court,' was a stand-alone court, 
that had become a place apart, in effect a ghetto court, to 
which the city's most troubled children and families were sent 
away from the `real' judicial system. Out of sight left 
children and families out of mind until the Juvenile Court was 
abolished as hopelessly ineffective and poorly funded.'' \25\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \21\ Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the United States 
Constitution gives Congress exclusive jurisdiction over the District of 
Columbia; Congress retained its authority over the local courts in the 
District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization 
Act of 1973 and took exclusive budget authority over the courts 
pursuant to the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Act 
of 1997.
    \22\ For a detailed description of the history of the courts in the 
District of Columbia, see the attached appendix, which is incorporated 
by reference herein.
    \23\ Hearing Report, Committee on the District of Columbia and 
Subcommittee on Improvements in Judicial Machinery of the Committee on 
the Judiciary, United States Senate, 91st Congress, First Session, May 
19-22, July 25-27, and August 7, 1969 (``D.C. Courts Hearing Report''), 
at p. 580.
    \24\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at 575.
    \25\ Written Testimony of Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, to the 
Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of 
Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, 
October 25, 2001 (``Norton Testimony''), at p. 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In the late 1960's, the Senate Committee on the District of 
Columbia became concerned about the District of Columbia 
courts, and began looking into avenues of reform. The Committee 
conducted an exhaustive review of the courts, and sought 
recommendations from a number of groups and commissions about 
what form a new court system should take. Some, such as the 
President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia, 
believed that the Juvenile Court should be retained and 
strengthened into a Family Court for all family cases, separate 
from the court of general jurisdiction.\26\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \26\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 581.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This recommendation was not shared by the Ad Hoc Committee 
on the Administration of Justice, a group comprised of 
attorneys and court experts established by the Judicial Council 
of the District of Columbia. The Ad Hoc Committee criticized 
the notion of a splintered court, quoting Roscoe Pound: 
``Multiplicity of courts is characteristic of archaic law.'' 
\27\ The Ad Hoc Committee pointed out that ``[t]he Juvenile 
Court has been in trouble for many, many years, and is at the 
moment in serious trouble. It lacks strength and cannot be 
adequately managed since it is not a part of the central court 
system of our city.'' \28\ Instead, the Ad Hoc Committee 
advocated for including the family bench under the umbrella of 
a single court of general jurisdiction. Specifically, it 
claimed that ``[h]aving a larger pool of judges who could move 
in and out of the Juvenile division and other parts of the 
court would broaden a judge's judicial experience, keep him 
abreast of general development of the law, and ensure a higher 
quality of judiciary, because judges who might refuse to 
specialize in a steady diet of one aspect of the law would be 
willing to serve for shorter periods of time.'' \29\ The Ad Hoc 
Committee also recommended that the family bench be fully 
integrated into the court to allow the chief judge the 
necessary flexibility to manage it. It criticized the then-
current domestic relations branch of the Court of General 
Sessions, which had its own list of judges and clerks, and 
operated separately from the Court, because the chief judge had 
``no power to rotate judges in and out of the domestic 
relations branch.'' \30\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \27\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 582.
    \28\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 583.
    \29\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 581.
    \30\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 582.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1970, Congress took the advice of the Ad Hoc Committee 
and passed the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal 
Procedure Act of 1970,\31\ which abolished the Juvenile Court 
and established the unified court system that exists today. The 
District of Columbia Superior Court was established as a court 
of general jurisdiction, with five branches: family, civil, 
criminal, tax and probate. Currently, the Superior Court is 
composed of 58 judges and one chief judge. In addition to its 
five divisions, it recently established a cross-jurisdictional 
domestic violence unit. In an average year the Court may 
dispose of upwards of 160,000 cases, with 14,000 in the family 
division alone.\32\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \31\ P.L. 91-358, 84 Stat. 473.
    \32\ 2000 Annual Report, District of Columbia Courts, p. 58.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Currently, Superior Court judges, who are appointed for a 
total term of 15 years after a rigorous selection process,\33\ 
fit the model recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee on the 
Administration of Justice: they are generalists who serve 
extendable one-year terms in the different divisions of the 
Court, with assignments left to the discretion of the chief 
judge. All of the 59 judges have some of the current caseload 
of the approximately 4,500 abuse and neglect cases on their 
dockets, even if they have never sat on the family bench.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \33\ Superior Court judges are appointed by the President and 
confirmed by the Senate. The President makes his selection from a list 
of three names provided to him by the District of Columbia Judicial 
Nominations Commission, which chooses from among a pool of applicants, 
who must be residents of the District who have practiced there for a 
certain number of years. This process usually involves extensive 
screening by the District of Columbia Nominations Commission, an 
Federal Bureau of Investigation background investigation and a thorough 
review by this Committee of the candidate's qualification and 
background.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        The need for legislation

    The bill's sponsors were concerned about how abused and 
neglected children with cases before the Superior Court are 
affected by its current system. They noted that many of those 
with the weighty responsibility of deciding the fate of abused 
and neglected children are not well acquainted with the 
intricacies of family law, the tangled bureaucracy responsible 
for children in the District of Columbia, or the complex 
network of resources available to families and children in 
trouble.\34\ Despite the rigorous and extensive judicial 
selection process,\35\ few candidates with family law 
experience are nominated to the Superior Court bench. Further, 
with abuse and neglect cases dispersed throughout the entire 
court, most judges who have these cases do not sit in the 
Family Division; if they ever have, they rotated through that 
division for only an ``average judicial term [of] about one 
year.'' \36\ Thus, as Senator DeWine, the lead sponsor of the 
Senate bill, put it, under the current system, ``[j]udges don't 
get the training, the technical support, nor the experience 
they need to properly handle these cases.'' \37\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \34\ According to Congressman Tom DeLay, ``Judges outside of the 
Family Division don't have the current knowledge about the availability 
or quality of service options or new laws and new regulations impacting 
the children before them. . . . I believe the best thing we can do for 
abused children in the District is to return all cases to a family 
court made up of committed judges who are all volunteers. Only their 
specialized knowledge of relevant federal and district laws will result 
in better decisions for abused children.'' Written Testimony of the 
Honorable Tom Delay, to the Committee on Governmental Affairs, 
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and 
the District of Columbia, October 25, 2001 (``DeLay Testimony''), at p. 
5.
    \35\ See footnote 33 above.
    \36\ Written Testimony of the Honorable Mike DeWine, to the Senate 
Committee on Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of 
Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, 
October 25, 2001 (``DeWine Testimony''), p. 3.
    \37\ DeWine Testimony at p. 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Moreover, as Senator DeWine has said, ``the currently 
spread-out system is a structural nightmare.'' \38\ 
Caseworkers, attorneys from the District of Columbia 
Corporation Counsel's Office, guardians ad litem, and other 
participants necessary for hearings in neglect and abuse cases 
must accommodate the schedules of all 59 judges of the Superior 
Court, shuttling between courtrooms and waiting for their cases 
to be called. This time-consuming system not only makes it 
difficult for caseworkers and others to make it to all the 
hearings they must attend, it also takes a significant amount 
of time away from their fieldwork responsibilities.\39\ 
Dispersing abuse and neglect cases throughout the court also 
means that a cohesive and integrated case management system 
cannot be maintained.\40\ In addition, mixing family cases with 
other types of matters on a judge's calendar can mean that 
children and families waiting for hearings may be occupying the 
same hallways together with criminal defendants and others, in 
an atmosphere that neither facilitates open and meaningful 
discussion of their most personal problems nor guarantees their 
cases receive the focused attention of the court.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \38\ DeWine Testimony at p. 2.
    \39\ Written Testimony of Deborah Luxenberg, Council for Court 
Excellence, to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, 
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and 
the District of Columbia, October 25, 2001 (``Luxenberg Testimony''), 
at p. 6.
    \40\ DeLay Testimony at p. 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Finally, cases involving the same family are often heard by 
different judges, which means that the knowledge one judge may 
have gained over time about the problems unique to that family 
will not be drawn on.\41\ As Congressman Tom DeLay has said, 
``We must put together all the pieces of the child's life 
before we determine whether it's safe for a child to go home, 
remain in a particular foster home or facility, or be placed 
for adoption. A child is safer when a single judge understands 
the whole story of his or her life. Multiple judges increase 
the chance of errors or vital information not being 
considered.'' \42\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \41\ Senator Mike DeWine testified that ``at the heart of the bill 
is the one-judge/one-family concept, which is designed to create 
judicial continuity, so that families aren't shuffled from one judge to 
another. This allows one judge to stay with one family throughout that 
family's experience in the welfare system. The simple fact is that if a 
judge who knows the entire history of a family, he or she can better 
protect the interests of the children and the parents involved.'' 
DeWine Testimony at p. 3.
    \42\ DeLay Testimony at p. 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Rufus G. King III, the current chief judge of the Superior 
Court, has made an effort to answer critics of this system. He 
has issued administrative directives which increase Family 
Division terms to three years beginning in January 2002, 
provide enhanced and additional training for Family Division 
judges, institute an alternate dispute resolution mechanism, 
and establish stronger working relationships between the court 
and city agencies responsible for child and family 
services.\43\ While the chief judge has made significant 
strides to achieve positive change, more is required to ``give 
these judges the tools they need to do their jobs--to protect 
the lives of these innocent children.'' \44\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \43\ Written Testimony of the Honorable Rufus King III, Chief Judge 
of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to the Committee on 
Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government 
Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, October 25, 
2001, (``King Testimony'') at pp. 3-4.
    \44\ DeWine Testimony at p. 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   Summary of H.R. 2657 as introduced

    H.R. 2657, as introduced, would have changed the structure 
of the Court by redesignating the Family Division of the Court 
as a ``Family Court'' comprised of 12 to15 judges and a number 
of magistrates. Under that version of the bill, the guiding 
principle of the Family Court would be ``one family, one 
judge,'' dictating that all family members would see the same 
judge or magistrate--barring conflicts of interest that may 
arise--for all family-law matters they had pending before the 
court. Family Court judges appointed after enactment would 
serve five-year terms, and sitting Superior Court judges would 
serve three-year terms, and the judges sitting on the family 
bench would have to be trained or expert in family law.
    After an 18-month transition period, all family cases 
pending in Superior Court would have been transferred to the 
dockets of judges or magistrates sitting on the Family Court 
bench. The hiring of magistrates with significant expertise in 
family law would be authorized, and current hearing 
commissioners would be treated as magistrates to give them 
additional power to move cases. Appointment of a special master 
would be required to help dispose of the thousands of neglect 
and abuse cases currently pending. The court would be required 
to create for the Family Court a ``family friendly'' 
environment, have a social services liaison on-site at all 
times, and establish an electronic case management and tracking 
system to be integrated with the systems of District of 
Columbia agencies providing social services to children and 
families. The chief judge would be required to submit a 
transition plan to Congress on an 18-month timetable within 90 
days of enactment. GAO would be required to submit a report 
assessing the procedures used to make initial judicial 
appointments, the impact of magistrates, and the number of 
judges needed for the Family Court.

             Concerns raised about H.R. 2657 as introduced

    For the most part, the District of Columbia Family Court 
Act of 2001 as introduced would take important steps towards 
improving the court system. Nonetheless, some concerns have 
been raised about its specific terms from, among others, 
Superior Court judges and administrators and members of the 
Family Law Section of the District of Columbia Bar. Some 
contended that the five-year terms for Family Court judges were 
too long for the emotionally taxing work of the family 
bench.\45\ Concerns ranged from fears of ``burn-out'' as judges 
approached the final years of their terms, to deterring strong 
candidates without significant family law backgrounds from 
seeking judgeships on a court with such daunting term 
requirements.\46\ Another concern about the bill was that it 
unduly restricted the discretion of the chief judge as the top 
administrator by not allowing him to make important court 
management decisions.\47\ For example, the bill set a minimum 
number of judges for Family Court.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \45\ See, e.g., Written Testimony of Margaret McKinney, Family Law 
Section of the District of Columbia Bar, to the Senate Subcommittee on 
Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of 
Columbia of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, October 25, 2001 
(``McKinney Testimony''), at pp. 3-8;. Written Testimony of Kathy 
Patterson, District of Columbia City Councilmember and Chairman of 
Council Committee on the Judiciary, to the House Subcommittee on the 
District of Columbia of the Committee on Government Reform, June 26, 
2001 (``Patterson Testimony''), at p. 3.
    \46\ The Florida Supreme Court's Family Court Steering Committee, 
after a seven year study, recommended three-year terms, with an 
opportunity for the judge to rotate out of the family division for a 
period of time following his or her term, before returning to the 
family bench. See ``A Model Family Court for Florida: Recommendations 
of the Florida Supreme Court's Family Court Steering Committee,'' June, 
2000, at p. 15.
    \47\ See, e.g., McKinney Testimony at pp. 8-9; Luxenberg Testimony 
at p. 6.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Another concern about the bill as introduced was that all 
pending family cases would have to be transferred into the 
Family Court by the end of the 18-month transition period, with 
no exceptions.\48\ In the October 25, 2001 hearing on this bill 
in the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government 
Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, 
questions were raised about two aspects of this provision: 
first, all family cases would include divorce, child support, 
and mental health cases, which would mean that the new court 
would be inundated with thousands of new cases unrelated to 
abused and neglected children; and second, no exception would 
exist for a judge who does not sit in the Family Court to keep 
a case on her docket where she has formed a special 
relationship with or understanding of a troubled child, whose 
case cannot be resolved within the transition period. Finally, 
some were concerned that the language of H.R. 2657, as 
introduced, might have dismantled the cross-jurisdictional 
Domestic Violence Unit by divesting it of jurisdiction over 
family cases, or might have prevented the court from 
instituting other cross-jurisdictional units.\49\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \48\ Patterson Testimony at pp. 5-6; King Testimony at p. 6.
    \49\ Norton Testimony at p. 3; Luxenberg Testimony at p. 8; King 
Testimony at p. 7; McKinney Testimony at p. 16; ``Steamrolling the 
Superior Court,'' Washington Post Editorial, October 25, 2001.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   How the amendment refines the bill

    To address these concerns, the Committee adopted an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 2657, which was 
introduced by Senator Durbin, with Senators DeWine and 
Landrieu, the sponsors of S. 1382, the Senate version of the 
District of Columbia Family Court Act. Although the term 
lengths for Family Court judges were left at five years for new 
judgesand three years for current judges, the bill as amended 
would provide the chief judge more flexibility to reassign judges on 
the family bench when he ``determines in the interest of justice the 
judge is unable'' to finish the full term. This change would protect 
the interests of children in two ways: it would retain the requirement 
that judges seeking a seat on the Family Court demonstrate a serious 
commitment by agreeing to devote a substantial part of their career to 
it, but it would allow the chief judge to reassign a judge when he or 
she is simply not serving the interests of children and families. The 
amendment also gives the chief judge more flexibility by removing the 
minimum number of judges required to serve on the Family Court. It will 
be in the chief judge's discretion to determine, over time, how many 
judges up to 15 are required on the family bench to appropriately serve 
the needs of families and children of the District. If necessary, the 
chief judge may expand the Family Court beyond 15 judges on a temporary 
basis.
    The chief judge is also provided flexibility by being able 
to allow judges to retain abuse and neglect cases outside the 
Family Court under certain circumstances. Such cases should be 
rare exceptions because a primary goal of the legislation is to 
have family cases--particularly cases involving abuse and 
neglect--handled by Family Court judges under the one family, 
one judge principle. Nevertheless, H.R. 2657 as amended would 
give the chief judge the flexibility to permit a judge outside 
the Family Court to retain a case he or she has had for more 
than 18 months, where the judge has special knowledge of the 
child's needs and reassignment would be harmful to the child, 
so long as the case remains at all times in full compliance 
with the Adoption and Safe Families Act. In addition, under 
similar exceptional circumstances, cases may be retained by 
Family Court judges who complete their full Family Court term 
and are rotating to another Superior Court division. The chief 
judge must determine, in consultation with the presiding judge 
of the Family Court, that retention is in the best interest of 
the parties, the judge has special knowledge of the child's 
needs and reassignment would be harmful to the child. Finally, 
the amended bill would ensure that the Domestic Violence Unit 
is kept intact.
    Despite the many areas of concern that the amended bill has 
addressed, there are a number of issues unresolved, including 
the effect of the five-year term of service for Family Court 
judges on the morale and recruitment of judges, the ability of 
the chief judge to rotate judges in and out of the Family 
Court, and the exceptions allowing judges outside of the Family 
Court to retain cases within the jurisdiction of the Family 
Court. These concerns echo those expressed by the Ad Hoc 
Committee on the Administration of Justice in connection with 
the 1970 restructuring of the District of Columbia courts, 
relating to fragmentation in the court and hindering the 
flexibility of the chief judge to manage the court. H.R. 2657 
would provide that the Superior Court report periodically to 
this Committee on its progress in putting the reforms into 
place; the Committee will carefully review these reports and 
monitor the Superior Court's implementation of the reforms with 
particular emphasis on the unresolved concerns discussed above.

                        III. Legislative History

    H.R. 2657, the District of Columbia Family Court Act of 
2001, was introduced on July 26, 2001 by Congressman Tom DeLay, 
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congresswoman Morella and 
Congressman Tom Davis, and was referred to the Committee on 
Government Reform. On August 13, 2001, H.R. 2657 was referred 
to the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, which 
considered the bill and held a mark-up session that day. On 
September 20, 2001, Congresswoman Morella moved to suspend the 
rules of the House of Representatives and pass the bill, and 
after 40 minutes of debate, H.R. 2657 was passed by a vote of 
408 to 0. On September 16, 2001, H.R. 2657 was received in the 
Senate, and was referred to the Senate Committee on 
Governmental Affairs. On October 16, 2001, the Committee on 
Governmental Affairs referred the bill to the Subcommittee on 
Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the 
District of Columbia.
    On October 25, 2001, the Oversight of Government 
Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia 
conducted a hearing on ``Promoting the Best Interests of 
Children: Proposals to Establish a Family Court in the District 
of Columbia Superior Court.'' This hearing was an opportunity 
to consider the components of H.R. 2657 and a similar Senate 
bill, S. 1382, including placing all cases involving one family 
before one judge, assigning a team of magistrates and social 
workers to assist the judicial function, mandating minimum 
terms for service for judges on the ``family court,'' and 
transferring all child abuse and neglect cases now dispersed 
across the court back under a ``family court'' helm.
    Member witnesses testifying before the subcommittee were 
Congressman Tom DeLay and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, 
the lead sponsors of H.R. 2657, and Senator Michael DeWine and 
Senator Mary Landrieu, the lead sponsors of S. 1382. 
Representatives of the District of Columbia judicial and social 
services systems and legal community directly involved in 
handling and litigating child abuse and neglect matters also 
testified: the Honorable Rufus G. King III, Chief Judge of the 
Superior Court of the District of Columbia; the Honorable Lee 
Satterfield, Presiding Judge of the Family Division of the 
Superior Court; Dr. Olivia Golden, Director of the District of 
Columbia Child and Family Services Agency; Deborah Luxenberg, 
Chairman of the Children in the Courts Subcommittee of the 
Council for Court Excellence; and Margaret McKinney, Chairman 
of the Family Law Section, District of Columbia Bar.
    H.R. 2657 was polled out of the Oversight of Government 
Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia 
Subcommittee on November 12, 2001. On November 14, 2001, H.R. 
2657 was considered by the full Committee on Governmental 
Affairs. A substitute amendment was offered by Senator Richard 
Durbin. The Durbin amendment was adopted by voice vote, with no 
Members present dissenting. H.R. 2657, as amended, was ordered 
reported out of the Committee of Governmental Affairs by voice 
vote, with no Members present dissenting. Present were Senators 
Akaka, Durbin, Cleland, Carper, Carnahan, Thompson, Voinovich, 
Cochran, Bunning and Lieberman.

              IV. Section-by-Section Analysis (as Amended)

    Section 1 entitles the Act as the ``District of Columbia 
Family Court Act of 2001.''
    Section 2 re-designates the existing family division of the 
District of Columbia Superior Court as the Family Court and 
makes conforming amendments to the District of Columbia Code. 
It reorganizes the current structure of the court, establishing 
a specialized group of judges, assisted by a team of 
magistrates, to focus on making expeditious decisions in 
litigation involving families and children, including abused 
and neglected children. The nationally-acclaimed Domestic 
Violence Unit, which handles cross-jurisdictional criminal, 
civil, and family issues, would be retained intact as a 
separate unit of the Superior Court, permitting appropriate 
cases to be assigned to such unit and not subsumed by or 
brought within the new Family Court.
    Section 3 sets out the composition of the Family Court, 
including appointment and assignment of judges, the number of 
judges, and qualifications for Family Court judges. This 
section addresses concerns expressed about the present practice 
of giving each of the 59 judges of the Superior Court a child 
welfare caseload in addition to his or her other 
responsibilities. It also aims to keep all child abuse and 
neglect cases, with very limited exceptions, within the Family 
Court, promoting the principle of ``one family, one judge.'' 
The intent of the ``one family, one judge'' language is for the 
case to be assigned to a specific judge in the Family Court at 
the time the case is first brought to court, and for this judge 
to conduct all subsequent hearings, conferences and trials. The 
Committee believes that use of a single judge or magistrate 
rather than a multitude of judges as the case progresses can 
ensure that a case plan is developed in a logical, step-by-step 
manner and provide greater consistency and continuity for 
families involved in the process. Such reforms can aid 
compliance with Federal law for the timely placement and 
adoption of children.
    Subsection 3(a) adds a new section to the District of 
Columbia Code that sets forth special rules regarding 
assignment and service of judges of Family Court. It requires 
that the number of judges serving in the Family Court be no 
more than 15. The amendment adopted by the Committee removes 
the minimum number of 12 judges set forth in the underlying 
bill, to afford the chief judge flexibility to address 
unforeseeable future needs of the court. Although a minimum 
number is not imposed, the Committee understands that the Court 
should maintain a minimum of 12 judges in the Family Court to 
meet the needs of the current case flow.
    Should the case flow of the Family Court increase to a 
point where 15 judges cannot keep up with their dockets, this 
subsection allows the chief judge to expand the number of 
judges serving on the Family Court beyond 15 judges by 
temporarily assigning to the Family Court qualified judges from 
other divisions in emergency circumstances in order to meet the 
intent of the law. Such judges temporarily reassigned under 
such circumstances would be encouraged, but not required, to 
serve the full term of a Family Court judge, but they must have 
training or experience in family law. To the greatest extent 
possible, the qualified judges enlisted by the chief judge to 
fill the need on the Family Court under this subsection should 
be volunteers.
    Subsection 3(a) also modifies the restriction in Sec. 11-
903 of the District of Columbia Code on the total composition 
of the Superior Court to allow the chief judge to exceed the 
overall cap of 59 judges if necessary to maintain a full 
complement of 15 judges in the Family Court. The chief judge 
may do this, however, only if the number of judges on the 
Family Court is less than 15, the chief judge is unable to 
secure a volunteer judge from another division to transfer to 
the Family Court bench, the chief judge obtains approval from 
the Joint Committee on Judicial Administration, and the chief 
judge reports to Congress about why it is necessary to exceed 
the cap.
    Subsection 3(a) also establishes the qualifications for a 
judge serving on the Family Court. It requires that a Family 
Court judge have training or expertise in family law, as well 
as a certified intention to serve the full term and participate 
in training. This subsection also sets forth the term of 
service for judges on the Family Court. For judges sitting on 
the bench at the time of enactment, the term of service would 
be three years, including any period of time served on the 
Family Division immediately preceding the enactment. For judges 
who take the bench after enactment, the term of service would 
be five years. This subsection permits assignment for 
additional service at a judge's request, including service for 
a judge's full 15 year term, with the approval of the chief 
judge. This subsection also permits the chief judge to reassign 
any Family Court judge if the chief judge determines that in 
the interest of justice the judge is unable to continuing 
serving in the Family Court. Senior judges are exempted from 
the three-year term requirement; however, in assigning senior 
judges to the Family Court, the Committee encourages the chief 
judge to keep in mind the goals of this legislation to have 
judges on the Family Court for a sufficiently lengthy period to 
provide consistency to the operation of the Family Court.
    Subsection 3(b)(1) requires the chief judge of the Superior 
Court to submit a transition plan to Congress and the President 
not later than 90 days after enactment. The plan should analyze 
and describe the role of the presiding judge of the Family 
Court, the number of judges and magistrates needed in the 
Family Court, the appropriate functions and compensation for 
the magistrates, a plan for case flow and case management, a 
plan for space and equipment, a plan for the disposition or 
transfer of child abuse and neglect cases pending before judges 
serving in other divisions of the Court, and an estimate of the 
number of cases for which the transfer or disposition deadline 
of 18 months cannot be met and why.
    Subsection 3(b)(2) specifies that the chief judge may not 
take any action to implement the transition plan until 30 days 
after filing such plan with the President and the Congress.
    Subsection 3(b)(2) provides for the implementation of the 
plan to dispose of or transfer the child abuse and neglect 
cases within 18 months after filing a transition plan as 
outlined in subsection 3(b)(1). It adds a rule of construction 
that this 18-month deadline does not preclude transfer of cases 
well before the deadline, or even immediately. Indeed, the 
Superior Court is encouraged to begin the process of 
transferring appropriate cases outside the Family Division into 
the Family Court as soon as practicable.
    Subsection 3(b)(2) also allows cases pending before judges 
serving in other divisions to be retained by those judges in 
special circumstances. Retention is permitted provided if (1) 
the case retained remains at all times in full compliance with 
the Adoption and Safe Families Act [42 U.S.C. 675(5)(E)] 
(``ASFA''); (2) the case has been assigned continuously to that 
judge for 18 months or more; and (3) the judge has a special 
knowledge of the child's needs, such that reassignment would be 
harmful to the child. The Committee intends that only a very 
small number of cases be retained under this provision; to the 
greatest extent possible, cases under the jurisdiction of the 
Family Court that are on the dockets of non-Family Court judges 
should be transferred into the Family Court. This will 
facilitate not only the needs of the children andfamilies 
involved in those cases, but also will help the entire system to 
operate more smoothly.
    Subsection 3(b)(2) also requires that the Superior Court 
provide progress reports to Congress at six-month intervals for 
two years. The purpose of the reports is to monitor the 
implementation of the reforms set forth in the bill, including 
the court's transfer of cases into the Family Court.
    Subsection 3(c) establishes the process for filling 
judicial vacancies on the Family Court and the role of the 
District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission.
    Subsection 3(d) requires the Comptroller General to prepare 
and submit to Congress not later than two years after enactment 
of the Act a report which includes an analysis of the 
procedures used to make initial appointments to the Family 
Court, the impact of the magistrates, and the number of judges 
needed for the Family Court. The Comptroller General is 
required to provide to the chief judge a preliminary copy of 
the report and take the comments and recommendations of the 
chief judge into consideration in preparing the final version 
of the report.
    Section 4 sets forth the jurisdiction of the Family Court, 
encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution, and 
establishes a ``one family, one judge'' requirement where it is 
practicable, feasible, and lawful. It establishes a training 
program for judges, magistrates, attorneys, and non-judicial 
personnel. It requires the establishment of a ``family-
friendly'' environment and an integrated computerized case 
tracking system. This Section also requires the Mayor of the 
District of Columbia to establish an on-site social services 
liaison to coordinate with the Court and to provide information 
about relevant city services. This Section further requires the 
chief judge to submit annual reports to Congress on the 
activities of the Family Court during the year.
    Subsection 4(a) adds several new sections to the District 
of Columbia Code. One section enumerates the specific areas of 
Family Court jurisdiction. Another section specifies that until 
disposition, cases must remain within the Family Court governed 
by the ``one family, one judge'' principle, but cases must also 
remain in the Family Court even after the judge handling those 
cases completes his or her full term on the Family Court and 
rotates out to another division.
    Subsection 4(a) provides an exception to this rule, which 
would permit certain narrowly defined cases to stay on that 
judge's docket. For a judge leaving the Family Court to retain 
a case, (1) the case must be in compliance with ASFA; (2) it 
cannot stay on the judge's docket for more than 18 months after 
leaving the Family Court; (3) the judge must have special 
knowledge of the child's needs, such that reassignment would be 
harmful to child; and (4) the chief judge, in consultation with 
presiding judge of the Family Court, must determine that 
retention of the case is in the best interests of the parties. 
As with the exception provided under subsection 3(b)(2), the 
Committee intends that only a very small number of cases be 
retained by judges pursuant to this provision. In addition, the 
Committee recommends that any further proceedings in family 
cases retained by a judge rotating out of the Family Court be 
conducted in courtrooms or space designated for the Family 
Court, to the greatest extent possible. The Committee believes 
that this will minimize the burden on litigants and social 
workers involved in these cases, and be conducive to 
maintaining a family-friendly environment.
    Subsection 4(a) also establishes a new District of Columbia 
Code section requiring the chief judge to submit annual reports 
to Congress on Family Court activities, including information 
on compliance with deadlines and performance measures as well 
as information on the number of judges serving in Family Court, 
how long each judge has served, the number of cases retained 
outside the family court, the number of judicial reassignments 
to and from the Family Court bench, and the ability to recruit 
qualified sitting judges from within the Superior Court to 
serve on the Family Court bench.
    Subsection 4(b) provides for expedited appeals for orders 
of the Family Court terminating parental rights or granting or 
denying a petition to adopt.
    Subsection 4(c) requires that not later than six months 
after enactment of the Act, the Mayor of the District of 
Columbia must submit a plan to the President and Congress for 
integrating the computer systems of relevant District of 
Columbia government agencies with the computer systems of the 
Court and authorizes funds to be appropriated for completion of 
the plan.
    Subsection 4(d) makes clerical amendments to the table of 
sections in chapter 11 of title 11 of the District of Columbia 
Code.
    Section 5 re-designates hearing commissioners as 
magistrates in the District of Columbia Code.
    Subsection 5(b) allows any individual serving as a hearing 
commissioner as of the date of enactment of the Act to be 
reappointed as a magistrate. It also permits hearing 
commissioners appointed prior to enactment of this Act to 
become magistrates without meeting the residency requirement.
    Subsection 5(c) makes the amendments of this section 
effective on the date of enactment of this Act.
    Section 6 outlines special rules for magistrates of the 
Family Court. It requires certified social workers on the 
Advisory Merit Selection Panel to assist in the hiring of 
magistrates, establishes special qualifications for magistrates 
in the Family Court, and provides magistrates for the Family 
Court and Domestic Violence Unit with additional powers and 
authorities. Magistrates will have expertise in family law, and 
will be able to address the problems facing the children and 
families of the District of Columbia. It requires the chief 
judge, in consultation with the presiding judge of the Family 
Court, to ensure that magistrates receive training. The 
Committee strongly encourages that magistrates serving in the 
Family Court or Domestic Violence Unit serve their entire terms 
in the Family Court or Domestic Violence Unit to maximize case 
continuity and advance the guiding principle of one family, one 
judge.
    Subsection 6(b) makes conforming amendments to the District 
of Columbia Code.
    Subsection 6(c) makes a clerical amendment to the table of 
sections for subchapter II of chapter 17 of title 11 of the 
District of Columbia Code.
    Subsection 6(d) establishes an expedited initial 
appointments process for appointing the first five magistrates 
serving in the Family Court within 60 days of enactment. It 
also sets forth the transition responsibilities of those first 
five magistrates, which include working with the judges outside 
the Family Court to whom child abuse and neglect cases are 
currently assigned to help make case disposition or transfer 
decisions.
    Section 7 is a sense of the Congress that Maryland, 
Virginia, and the District of Columbia should promptly enter 
into a border agreement to facilitate the timely and safe 
placement of children in District of Columbia welfare system in 
foster and kinship homes and other facilities in Maryland and 
Virginia.
    Section 8 is a sense of the Congress that the chief judge 
of the Superior Court and the presiding judges of the Family 
Division take all steps necessary to encourage, support, and 
improve the use of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) in 
family court actions or proceedings. CASAs play a unique and 
important role in ensuring that children are protected and 
their needs met.
    Section 9 requires the chief judge and the presiding judge 
of the Family Court, not later than 12 months after enactment 
of the Act and in consultation with the General Services 
Administration, to submit to Congress a feasibility study for 
the construction of appropriate permanent courts and facilities 
for the Family Court and an analysis of the success of the use 
of magistrates under the expedited appointment procedures. The 
feasibility study is intended to be the first step towards 
establishing a permanent ``family-friendly'' environment for 
those served by the Family Court. The Committee expects that, 
upon completion, the study will be used to begin the process of 
actual construction of space pursuant to established federal 
property and procurement principles.
    Section 10 authorizes appropriations of such sums as 
necessary to the District of Columbia Courts and the District 
of Columbia to carry out the amendments of the Act.
    Section 11 makes the amendments of the Act effective upon 
the appropriation of funds specifically designated by the 
Federal law for the purposes of carrying out the Act.

          V. Cost Estimate of the Congressional Budget Office

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                 Washington, DC, November 27, 2001.
Hon. Joseph I. Lieberman,
Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2657, the District 
of Columbia Family Court Act of 2001.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are Matthew 
Pickford and Lanette J. Walker (for federal costs), Susan Sieg 
Tompkins (for the state and local impact), and Paige Piper/Bach 
(for the private-sector impact).
            Sincerely,
                                          Barry B. Anderson
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

H.R. 2657--District of Columbia Family Court Act of 2001

    Summary: H.R. 2657 would redesignate the Family Division of 
the Superior Court of the District of Columbia as a distinct 
entity called the Family Court of the Superior Court. The act 
would require that all proceedings under the jurisdiction of 
the Family Division be heard by that new entity. Under current 
law, other divisions of the Superior Court regularly handle 
proceedings of the Family Division when necessary. In addition, 
the act would require the appropriation of such sums as 
necessary to the District of Columbia to implement the act. CBO 
estimates that implementing the act would cost $92 million over 
the 2002-2006 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary 
amounts. Because the act would not affect direct spending or 
governmental receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would not 
apply.
    H.R. 2657 contains intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) but CBO estimates that 
the costs to comply with those requirements would not exceed 
the threshold established in UMRA ($56 million in 2001, 
adjusted annually for inflation). Further, H.R. 2657 would 
authorize appropriations to carry out the provisions of the 
act, so the District of Columbia would face no net costs. The 
act contains no new private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Major Provisions: In addition to designating the Family 
Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia as 
the Family Court, H.R. 2657 would:
          --Require that representatives of social services and 
        other related services for individuals and families 
        served by the Family Court be available on-site at the 
        location of the Family Court;
          --Require ``one family, one judge'' for cases and 
        proceedings to the greatest extent practicable, 
        feasible, and lawful;
          --Designate the jurisdiction of the Family Court to 
        include divorces, child support, custody, adoptions, 
        and various other proceedings;
          --Establish certain requirements for judges who would 
        serve on the Family Court;
          --Direct the court to establish and operate an 
        electronic tracking system for cases and proceedings in 
        the Family Court and expand the system to cover all 
        divisions of the Superior Court;
          --Require that representatives from the departments 
        of the District government related to social and family 
        services be available on-site at the location of the 
        Family Court;
          --Authorize the Mayor of the District of Columbia to 
        appoint a liaison between the Family Court and the 
        District government;
          --Designate all hearing commissioners of the Superior 
        Court as magistrate judges with the full duties of that 
        position and establish certain requirements for 
        magistrate judges serving the Family Court; and
          --Authorize the appropriation of such sums as are 
        necessary to support the additional judges and staff 
        authorized under the act.
    Other provisions would require the court to develop a 
master plan for the Family Court, and would require several 
reports from the District of Columbia Courts.
    Estimated Cost to the Federal Government: As shown in the 
following table, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2657 
would cost $92 million over the 2002-2006 period, subject to 
appropriation of the necessary amounts. The costs of this 
legislation fall within budget function 800 (general 
government).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                    --------------------------------------------
                                                                       2002     2003     2004     2005     2006
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Judges and support staff:
    Estimated authorization level..................................        3        6        6        6        6
    Estimated outlays..............................................        3        6        6        6        6
Integrated Justice information system:
    Estimated authorization level..................................        2        3        2    (\1\)    (\1\)
    Estimated outlays..............................................        2        3        2    (\1\)    (\1\)
Capital improvements and rental costs:
    Estimated authorization level..................................       12       21        8        6        6
    Estimated outlays..............................................        3       11       16       13        7
Computer integration plan:
    Estimated authorization level..................................        3    (\1\)    (\1\)    (\1\)    (\1\)
    Estimated outlays..............................................        3    (\1\)    (\1\)    (\1\)    (\1\)
D.C. Services representatives and liaison:
    Estimated authorization level..................................        1        1        1        1        1
    Estimated outlays..............................................        1        1        1        1        1
Total discretionary changes:
    Estimated authorization level..................................       21       31       17       13       13
    Estimated outlays..............................................       12       21       25       20       14
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Less than $500,000.

Basis of estimate

    For this estimate, CBO assumes that H.R. 2657 will be 
enacted by the end of 2001 and that the amounts necessary to 
implement the act will be provided each fiscal year. All 
spending would be subject to future appropriation actions.
    Section 3 would require that most proceedings under the 
jurisdiction of the Family Court be held in that court and that 
all family law cases pending in other divisions of the Superior 
Court (except for certain specific circumstances) be 
transferred into the Family Court. The majority of family law 
cases are neglect and abuse cases, and about 4,500 such cases 
are currently pending. Of those cases, 3,600 are pending before 
a judge outside the Family Division of the Superior Court. In 
addition, about 1,500 new cases come before the courteach year. 
Most of the estimated cost to implement this legislation would be 
required to fund the additional workload that would be imposed on the 
Family Court and the capital costs of expanding work space to 
accommodate the additional judges and support staff. CBO estimates that 
implementing H.R. 2657 would cost about $92 million over the 2002-2006 
period. The components of that estimate are described below.
            Additional Superior Court Judges and Support Staff
    H.R. 2657 would set requirements for judges that serve the 
Family Court, including a minimum length of service. Under the 
act, judges currently serving on the court may choose to 
transfer to the Family Court from all divisions of the Superior 
Court. Assuming that all 12 of the current Family Division 
judges choose to transfer, CBO expects that three additional 
judges would be necessary to implement the act. CBO estimates 
that the salaries and benefits of the judges and judicial 
support staff would cost about $1 million each year over the 
five-year period.
    The act would designate all Superior Court hearing 
commissioners as magistrate all Superior Court hearing 
commissioners as magistrate judges and would authorize the 
court to appoint additional magistrate judges if needed. Based 
on information from the District of Columbia Courts, CBO 
expects that nine additional magistrates would be required to 
implement the act. Based on the historical ratio of magistrate 
judges to support staff, CBO estimates that the additional 
magistrate judges and staff would cost about $3.4 million each 
year over the five-year period.
    Section 4 would require cases and proceedings in the Family 
Court to be resolved through alternative dispute resolution 
procedures to the greatest extent practical. Based on 
information from the court, CBO expects that the court would 
request that about 1,500 new cases each year enter the 
alternative dispute resolution process. Based on the operation 
of the current alternative dispute resolution program, CBO 
estimates that implementing this provision would cost about 
$500,000 each year over the five-year period for stipends and 
training for mediators and additional court support staff.
    Section 4 also would require the Family Court to develop an 
ongoing program to train judges and other staff in matters 
related to family law, such as child development, family 
dynamics, and risk factors for child abuse. Based on 
information from the District of Columbia Courts, CBO estimates 
that implementing this provision would cost about $50,000 in 
2002 and $100,000 each year over the 2003-2006 period.
    In addition, CBO estimate that security and office supplies 
for the additional judges and staff would cost about $50,000 
each year over the five-year period.
            Integrated Justice Information System
    Section 4 would require the District of Columbia Courts to 
establish and operate an electronic tracking and management 
system for cases and proceedings in the Family Court and to 
expand this system to all divisions of the Superior Court. 
Based on information from the court, CBO estimates that the 
complete system would cost $7 million. The court has received a 
grant of over $1 million for the system; therefore, CBO 
estimates that an additional $6 million would be needed to 
complete the system.
    In addition, CBO estimates that additional support staff 
would be necessary to administer the Integrated Justice 
Information System and analyze the data for the various reports 
required under the act. CBO estimates that the new staff would 
cost about $300,000 each year over the 2002-2006 period, 
assuming the appropriation of the necessary amounts.
            Capital Improvements
    Based on information from the District of Columbia Courts, 
CBO expects that implementing the act would require the court 
to construct new courtrooms and upgrade electrical, plumbing, 
and other systems within existing court buildings. In addition, 
the District Courts expect to rent office space in commercial 
buildings to accommodate the staff increases authorized by the 
act.
    Based on information from the District of Columbia Courts, 
CBO estimates that implementing this provision would cost about 
$25 million over the 2002-2006 period for construction and 
renovation, and about $6 million per year for the rental of 
office space. We estimate that capital improvements and rental 
payments authorized by H.R. 2657 would cost about $2 million in 
2002 and $53 million over the 2002-2006 period, subject to the 
availability of appropriated funds.
            Computer Integration Plan
    H.R. 2657 would require the District government to submit 
to the Congress a plan for integrating certain computer systems 
of the District government not more than six months after the 
date of enactment. Under the planned computer system, the 
Family Court and the relevant social services agencies in the 
District would be able to access and share information related 
to the individuals and families they serve. Based on 
information from the District government, CBO estimates that 
preparing this plan would cost $3 million in 2002.
            D.C. Services Representatives and Liaison
    H.R. 2657 would require that representatives from the 
departments of the District government related to social and 
family services be available on-site at the location of the 
court. Based on information from the District government, CBO 
expects that 10 representatives would be required to implement 
this provision of the act. The act also would require the Mayor 
of the District of Columbia to appoint a liaison between the 
Family Court and the District government. CBO estimates that 
the additional personnel would cost about $1 million each year 
over the five-year period, assuming the appropriation of the 
necessary amounts.
    Pay-as-you-go considerations: None.
    Estimated impact on state, local, and tribal governments: 
H.R. 2657 would place new requirements on the superior court 
and the Mayor of the District of Columbia as part of 
redesignating the court's Family Division as Family Court. 
Among these requirements, the Superior Court would be required 
to develop a transition plan that would address appointment and 
qualification of judges, case flow management, and disposition 
of actions pending before the Family Division. The court also 
would be required go prepare status reports, provide certain 
training to judges serving on the Family Court, and update its 
data management systems. The Mayor would be required to make 
representatives of certain city agencies available to 
individuals served by the court, and to develop a plan for 
integrating certain city data systems with data systems of the 
court.
    Those requirements would be mandates under UMRA but CBO 
estimates that the cost to comply would not exceed the 
threshold established in the act ($56 million in 2001, adjusted 
annually for inflation). H.R. 2657 would authorize 
appropriations to pay for the mandates, so the District of 
Columbia would face no net costs as a result of the act if 
those appropriations are provided.
    Estimated impact on the private sector: This act contains 
no new private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Previous CBO estimate: On September 12, 2001, CBO 
transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 2657, the District of 
Columbia Family Court Act of 2001, as approved by the 
Subcommittee on the District of Columbia, House Committee on 
Government Reform on August 13, 2001. The two versions of the 
bill are similar, but the full committee version would require 
a lesser workload for the Family Court, which would lower 
staffing costs. In addition, because we are now assuming a 
later enactment date, costs over the 2002-2006 period would be 
$7 million lower.
    On November 27, 2001, CBO prepared a cost estimate for S. 
1382, as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on 
Governmental Affairs on November 14, 2001. H.R. 2657 and S. 
1382 are identical, as are the estimated costs.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal costs: Matthew Pickford and 
Lanette J. Walker; impact on State, local, and tribal 
governments: Susan Sieg Tompkins; impact on the private sector: 
Paige Piper/Bach.
    Estimate approved by: Robert A. Sunshine, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                  VI. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Paragraph 11(b)(1) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of 
the Senate requires that each report accompanying a bill 
evaluate the ``regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out this bill.'' According to the Congressional Budget 
Office (CBO), H.R. 2657 contains intergovernmental mandates as 
defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). The Mayor 
of the District of Columbia would be required to make 
representatives of certain city agencies available to 
individuals served by the court, and to develop a plan for 
integrating certain city data systems with data systems of the 
court. CBO estimates that the costs to comply with those 
requirements would not exceed the threshold established in 
UMRA. H.R. 2657 has no additional regulatory impact.

                      VII. Changes to Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic and existing law, in which no 
change is proposed, is shown in roman):

                       DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CODE

         TITLE 11, ORGANIZATION AND JURISDICTION OF THE COURTS

            CHAPTER 7. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEALS


Sec. 11-721. Orders and judgments of the Superior Court

    (a) The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has 
jurisdiction of appeals from--
          (1) all final orders and judgments of the Superior 
        Court of the District of Columbia;

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (g) Any appeal from an order of the Family Court of the 
District of Columbia terminating parental rights or granting or 
denying a petition to adopt shall receive expedited review by 
the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

         CHAPTER 9. SUPERIOR COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


[Sec. 11-902. Organization of the court

    The Superior Court shall consist of the following 
divisions: Civil Division, Criminal Division, Family Division, 
Probate Division, and Tax Division. The divisions of the 
Superior Court may be divided into such branches as the 
Superior Court may by rule prescribe.]

Sec. 11-902. Organization of the court

    (a) In General.--The Superior Court shall consist of the 
following:
        (1) The Civil Division.
        (2) The Criminal Division.
        (3) The Family Court.
        (4) The Probate Division.
        (5) The Tax Division.
    (b) Branches.--The divisions of the Superior Court may be 
divided into such branches as the Superior Court may by rule 
prescribe.
    (c) Designation of Presiding Judge of Family Court.--The 
chief judge of the Superior Court shall designate one of the 
judges assigned to the Family Court of the Superior Court to 
serve as the presiding judge of the Family Court of the 
Superior Court.
    (d) Jurisdiction Described.--The Family Court shall have 
original jurisdiction over the actions, applications, 
determinations, adjudications, and proceedings described in 
section 11-1101. Actions, applications, determinations, 
adjudications, and proceedings being assigned to cross-
jurisdictional units established by the Superior Court, 
including the Domestic Violence Unit, on the date of enactment 
of this section may continue to be so assigned after the date 
of enactment of this section.

Sec. 11-906. Administration by chief judge; discharge of duties

    (a) The chief judge shall administer and superintend the 
business of the Superior Court, as provided in chapter 17 of 
this title. The chief judge shall attend to the discharge of 
the duties pertaining to the office of chief judge and perform 
such additional judicial work as the chief judge is able to 
perform.
    (b) The chief judge shall, insofar as is consistent with 
this title, arrange and divide the business of the Superior 
Court and fix the time of sessions of the Family Court and the 
various divisions and branches of the Superior Court.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


              SUBCHAPTER I. CONTINUATION AND ORGANIZATION

Sec.
11-901. Continuation of courts; court record; seal.
11-902. Organization of the court.
     * * * * * * *
11-908. Designation and assignment of judges.
11-908A. Special Rules regarding assignment and service of judges of 
          Family Court.
     * * * * * * *

Sec. 11-908. Designation and assignment of judges

    (a) [The chief judge] Subject to section 11-908A, the chief 
judge may designate the number of judges to serve in any 
division and branch of the Superior Court and may assign and 
reassign any judge to sit in any division or branch. When 
making assignments to the Family Division and Tax Division, the 
chief judge shall consider the qualifications and interest of 
the judges. Each associate judge shall attend and serve in the 
division and branch to which assigned.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 11-908A. Special rules regarding assignment and service of judges 
                    of Family Court

    (a) Number of Judges.--
        (1) In general.--The number of judges serving on the 
        Family Court of the Superior Court shall be not more 
        than 15.
        (2) Exception.--If the chief judge determines that, in 
        order to carry out the intent and purposes of this Act, 
        an emergency exists such that the number of judges 
        needed on the Family Court of the Superior Court at any 
        time is more than 15, the chief judge may temporarily 
        reassign qualified judges from other divisions of the 
        Superior Court or qualified senior judges to serve on 
        the Family Court. Such reassigned judges shall not be 
        subject to the term of service requirements of this 
        Act.
        (3) Composition.--The total number of judges on the 
        Superior Court may exceed the limit on such judges 
        specified in section 11-903 to the extent necessary to 
        maintain the requirements of this subsection if--
                  (A) the number of judges serving on the 
                Family Court is less than 15; and
                  (B) the chief judge of the Superior Court--
                          (i) is unable to secure a volunteer 
                        judge who is sitting on the Superior 
                        Court outside of the Family Court for 
                        reassignment to the Family Court;
                          (ii) obtains approval of the Joint 
                        Committee on Judicial Administration; 
                        and
                          (iii) reports to Congress regarding 
                        the circumstances that gave rise to the 
                        necessity to exceed the cap.
    (b) Qualifications.--The chief judge may not assign an 
individual to serve on the Family Court of the Superior Court 
or handle a Family Court case unless--
          (1) the individual has training or expertise in 
        family law;
          (2) the individual certifies to the chief judge that 
        the individual intends to serve the full term of 
        service, except that this paragraph shall not apply 
        with respect to individuals serving as senior judges 
        under section 11-1504, individuals serving as temporary 
        judges under section 11-908, and any other judge 
        serving in another division of the Superior Court;
          (3) the individual certifies to the chief judge that 
        the individual will participate in the ongoing training 
        programs carried out for judges of the Family Court 
        under section 11-1104(c); and
          (4) the individual meets the requirements of section 
        11-1501(b).
    (c) Term of Service.--
        (1) In general.--
                  (A) Sitting judges.--An individual assigned 
                to serve as a judge of the Family Court of the 
                Superior Court who is serving as a judge in the 
                Superior Court on the date of enactment of the 
                District of Columbia Family Court Act of 2001 
                shall serve in the Family Court for a term of 
                not fewer than 3 years as determined by the 
                chief judge of the Superior Court (including 
                any period of service on the Family Division of 
                the Superior Court immediately preceding the 
                date of enactment of such Act).
                  (B) New judges.--An individual assigned to 
                serve as a judge of the Family Court of the 
                Superior Court who is not serving as a judge in 
                the Superior Court on the date of enactment of 
                the District of Columbia Family Court Act of 
                2001 shall serve for a term of 5 years.
          (2) Assignment for additional service.--After the 
        term of service of a judge of the Family Court (as 
        described in paragraph (1)) expires, at the judge's 
        request and with the approval of the chief judge, the 
        judge may be assigned for additional service on the 
        Family Court for a period of such duration (consistent 
        with section 431(c) of the District of Columbia Home 
        Rule Act) as the chief judge may provide.
          (3) Permitting service on family court for entire 
        term.--At the request of the judge and with the 
        approval of the chief judge, a judge may serve as a 
        judge of the Family Court for the judge's entire term 
        of service as a judge of the Superior Court under 
        section 431(c) of the District of Columbia Home Rule 
        Act.
    (d) Reassignment to Other Divisions.--The chief judge may 
reassign a judge of the Family Court to any division of the 
Superior Court if the chief judge determines that in the 
interest of justice the judge is unable to continue serving in 
the Family Court.

           CHAPTER 11. FAMILY DIVISION OF THE SUPERIOR COURT

Chapter 11. [Family Division] Family Court of the Superior Court.
     * * * * * * *
Chapter                                                             Sec.
1. General Provisions...................................11-101 to 11-102
3. United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 
              Circuit.............................................11-301
     * * * * * * *
11. [Family Division] Family Court of the District of Columbia...11-1101
     * * * * * * *

 CHAPTER 11. [FAMILY DIVISION] FAMILY COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Sec.
11-1101. Exclusive Jurisdiction.
11-1102. Use of alternative dispute resolution.
11-1103. Standards of practice for appointed counsel.
11-1104. Administration.
11-1105. Social services and other related services.
11-1106. Reports to Congress.

[Sec. 11-1101. Exclusive jurisdiction

    [The Family Division of the Superior Court shall be 
assigned, in accordance with chapter 9, exclusive jurisdiction 
of--
          [(1) actions for divorce from the bond of marriage 
        and legal separation from bed and board, including 
        proceedings incidental thereto for alimony, pendente 
        lite and permanent, and for support and custody of 
        minor children;
          [(2) applications for revocation of divorce from bed 
        and board;
          [(3) actions to enforce support of any person as 
        required by law;
          [(4) actions seeking custody of minor children, 
        including petitions for writs of habeas corpus;
          [(5) actions to declare marriages void;
          [(6) actions to declare marriages valid;
          [(7) actions for annulments of marriage;
          [(8) determinations and adjudications of property 
        rights, both real and personal, in any action referred 
        to in this section, irrespective of any jurisdictional 
        limitation imposed on the Superior Court;
          [(9) proceedings in adoption;
          [(10) proceedings under the Act of July 10, 1957 
        (D.C. Code, secs. 30-301 to 30-324);
          [(11) proceedings to determine paternity of any child 
        born out of wedlock;
          [(12) civil proceedings for protection involving 
        intrafamily offenses, instituted pursuant to chapter 10 
        of title 16;
          [(13) proceedings in which a child, as defined in 
        section 16-2301, is alleged to be delinquent, 
        neglected, or in need of supervision;
          [(14) proceedings under chapter 5 of title 21 
        relating to the commitment of the mentally ill;
          [(15) proceedings under chapter 11 of title 21 
        relating to the commitment of the substantially 
        retarded; and
          [(16) proceedings under Interstate Compact on 
        Juveniles (described in title IV of the District of 
        Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 
        1970).]

Sec. 11-1101. Jurisdiction of the Family Court

    (a) In General.--The Family Court of the District of 
Columbia shall be assigned and have original jurisdiction 
over--
          (1) actions for divorce from the bond of marriage and 
        legal separation from bed and board, including 
        proceedings incidental thereto for alimony, pendente 
        lite and permanent, and for support and custody of 
        minor children;
          (2) applications for revocation of divorce from bed 
        and board;
          (3) actions to enforce support of any person as 
        required by law;
          (4) actions seeking custody of minor children, 
        including petitions for writs of habeas corpus;
          (5) actions to declare marriages void;
          (6) actions to declare marriages valid;
          (7) actions for annulments of marriage;
          (8) determinations and adjudications of property 
        rights, both real and personal, in any action referred 
        to in this section, irrespective of any jurisdictional 
        limitation imposed on the Superior Court;
          (9) proceedings in adoption;
          (10) proceedings under the Act of July 10, 1957 (D.C. 
        Code, secs. 30-301 to 30-324);
          (11) proceedings to determine paternity of any child 
        born out of wedlock;
          (12) civil proceedings for protection involving 
        intrafamily offenses, instituted pursuant to chapter 10 
        of title 16;
          (13) proceedings in which a child, as defined in 
        section 16-2301, is alleged to be delinquent, 
        neglected, or in need of supervision;
          (14) proceedings under chapter 5 of title 21 relating 
        to the commitment of the mentally ill;
          (15) proceedings under chapter 11 of title 21 
        relating to the commitment of the substantially 
        retarded; and
          (16) proceedings under Interstate Compact on 
        Juveniles (described in title IV of the District of 
        Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 
        1970).
    (b) Definition.--
          (1) In general.--In this chapter, the term `action or 
        proceeding' with respect to the Family Court refers to 
        cause of action described in paragraphs (1) through 
        (16) of subsection (a).
          (2) Exception.--An action or proceeding may be 
        assigned to or retained by cross-jurisdictional units 
        established by the Superior Court, including the 
        Domestic Violence Unit.

Sec. 11-1102. Use of alternative dispute resolution

    To the greatest extent practicable and safe, cases and 
proceedings in the Family Court of the Superior Court shall be 
resolved through alternative dispute resolution procedures, in 
accordance with such rules as the Superior Court may 
promulgate.

Sec. 11-1103. Standards of practice for appointed counsel

    The Superior Court shall establish standards of practice 
for attorneys appointed as counsel in the Family Court of the 
Superior Court.

Sec. 11-1104. Administration

    (a) ``One Family, One Judge'' Requirement for Cases and 
Proceedings.--To the greatest extent practicable, feasible, and 
lawful, if an individual who is a party to an action or 
proceeding assigned to the Family Court has an immediate family 
or household member who is a party to another action or 
proceeding assigned to the Family Court, the individual's 
action or proceeding shall be assigned to the same judge or 
magistrate judge to whom the immediate family member's action 
or proceeding is assigned.
    (b) Retention of Jurisdiction Over Cases.--
          (1) In general.--In addition to the requirement of 
        subsection (a), any action or proceeding assigned to 
        the Family Court of the Superior Court shall remain 
        under the jurisdiction of the Family Court until the 
        action or proceeding is finally disposed, except as 
        provided in paragraph (2)(C).
          (2) One family, One judge.--
                  (A) For the duration.--An action or 
                proceeding assigned pursuant to this subsection 
                shall remain with the judge or magistrate judge 
                to whom the action or proceeding is assigned 
                for the duration of the action or proceeding to 
                the greatest extent practicable, feasible, and 
                lawful.
                  (B) All cases involving an individual.--If an 
                individual who is a party to an action or 
                proceeding assigned to the Family Court becomes 
                a party to another action or proceeding 
                assigned to the Family Court, the individual's 
                subsequent action or proceeding shall be 
                assigned to the same judge or magistrate judge 
                to whom the individual's initial action or 
                proceeding is assigned to the greatest extent 
                practicable and feasible.
                  (C) Family court case retention.--If the full 
                term of a Family Court judge to whom the action 
                or proceeding is assigned is completed prior to 
                the final disposition of the action or 
                proceeding, the presiding judge of the Family 
                Court shall ensure that the matter or 
                proceeding is reassigned to a judge serving on 
                the Family Court.
                  (D) Exception.--A judge whose full term on 
                the Family Court is completed but who remains 
                in Superior Court may retain the case or 
                proceeding for not more than 18 months after 
                ceasing to serve if--
                          (i) the case remains at all times in 
                        full compliance with section 103(a)(3) 
                        of Public Law 105-89 (42 U.S.C. 
                        675(E)), if applicable, and the case 
                        has been assigned continuously to the 
                        judge for 18 months or more and the judge 
                        has a special knowledge of the child's 
                        needs, such that reassignment would be 
                        harmful to the child; and
                          (ii) the chief judge, in consultation 
                        with the presiding judge of the Family 
                        Court determines that such retention is 
                        in the best interests of the parties.
          (3) Standards of judicial ethics.--The actions of a 
        judge or magistrate judge in retaining an action or 
        proceeding under this paragraph shall be subject to 
        applicable standards of judicial ethics.
    (c) Training Program.--
          (1) In general.--The chief judge, in consultation 
        with the presiding judge of the Family Court, shall 
        carry out an ongoing program to provide training in 
        family law and related matters for judges of the Family 
        Court and other judges of the Superior Court who are 
        assigned Family Court cases, including magistrate 
        judges, attorneys who practice in the Family Court, and 
        appropriate nonjudicial personnel, and shall include in 
        the program information and instruction regarding the 
        following:
                  (A) Child development.
                  (B) Family dynamics, including domestic 
                violence.
                  (C) Relevant Federal and District of Columbia 
                laws.
                  (D) Permanency planning principles and 
                practices.
                  (E) Recognizing the risk factors for child 
                abuse.
                  (F) Any other matters the presiding judge 
                considers appropriate.
          (2) Use of cross-training.--The program carried out 
        under this section shall use the resources of lawyers 
        and legal professionals, social workers, and experts in 
        the field of child development and other related 
        fields.
    (d) Accessibility of Materials, Services, and Proceedings; 
Promotion of ``Family-Friendly'' Environment.--
          (1) In general.--To the greatest extent practicable, 
        the chief judge and the presiding judge of the Family 
        Court shall ensure that the materials and services 
        provided by the Family Court are understandable and 
        accessible to the individuals and families served by 
        the Family Court, and that the Family Court carries out 
        its duties in a manner which reflects the special needs 
        of families with children.
         (2) Location of proceedings.--To the maximum extent 
        feasible, safe, and practicable, cases and proceedings 
        in the Family Court shall be conducted at locations 
        readily accessible to the parties involved.
    (e) Integrated Computerized Case Tracking and Management 
System.--The Executive Officer of the District of Columbia 
courts under section 11-1703 shall work with the chief judge of 
the Superior Court--
        (1) to ensure that all records and materials of cases 
        and proceedings in the Family Court are stored and 
        maintained in electronic format accessible by computers 
        for the use of judges, magistrate judges, and 
        nonjudicial personnel of the Family Court, and for the 
        use of other appropriate offices of the District 
        government in accordance with the plan for integrating 
        computer systems prepared by the Mayor of the District 
        of Columbia under section 4(b) of the District of 
        Columbia Family Court Act of 2001;
          (2) to establish and operate an electronic tracking 
        and management system for cases and proceedings in the 
        Family Court for the use of judges and nonjudicial 
        personnel of the Family Court, using the records and 
        materials stored and maintained pursuant to paragraph 
        (1); and
          (3) to expand such system to cover all divisions of 
        the Superior Court as soon as practicable.

Sec. 11-1105. Social services and other related services

    (a) Onsite Coordination of Services and Information.--
          (1) In general.--The Mayor of the District of 
        Columbia, in consultation with the chief judge of the 
        Superior Court, shall ensure that representatives of 
        the appropriate offices of the District government 
        which provide social services and other related 
        services to individuals and families served by the 
        Family Court (including the District of Columbia Public 
        Schools, the District of Columbia Housing Authority, 
        the Child and Family Services Agency, the Office of the 
        Corporation Counsel, the Metropolitan Police 
        Department, the Department of Health, and other offices 
        determined by the Mayor) are available on-site at the 
        Family Court to coordinate the provision of such 
        services and information regarding such services to 
        such individuals and families.
          (2) Duties of heads of offices.--The head of each 
        office described in paragraph (1), including the 
        Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public 
        Schools and the Director of the District of Columbia 
        Housing Authority, shall provide the Mayor with such 
        information, assistance, and services as the Mayor may 
        require to carry out such paragraph.
    (b) Appointment of Social Services Liaison With Family 
Court.--The Mayor of the District of Columbia shall appoint an 
individual to serve as a liaison between the Family Court and 
the District government for purposes of subsection (a) and for 
coordinating the delivery of services provided by the District 
government with the activities of the Family Court and for 
providing information to the judges, magistrate judges, and 
nonjudicial personnel of the Family Court regarding the 
services available from the District government to the 
individuals and families served by the Family Court. The Mayor 
shall provide on an ongoing basis information to the chief 
judge of the Superior Court and the presiding judge of the 
Family Court regarding the services of the District government 
which are available for the individuals and families served by 
the Family Court.

Sec. 11-1106. Reports to Congress

    Not later than 90 days after the end of each calendar year, 
the chief judge of the Superior Court shall submit a report to 
Congress on the activities of the Family Court during the year, 
and shall include in the report the following:
          (1) The chief judge's assessment of the productivity 
        and success of the use of alternative dispute 
        resolution pursuant to section 11-1102.
          (2) Goals and timetables as required by the Adoption 
        and Safe Families Act of 1997 to improve the Family 
        Court's performance in the following year.
          (3) Information on the extent to which the Family 
        Court met deadlines and standards applicable under 
        Federal and District of Columbia law to the review and 
        disposition of actions and proceedings under the Family 
        Court's jurisdiction during the year.
          (4) Information on the progress made in establishing 
        locations and appropriate space for the Family Court 
        that are consistent with the mission of the Family 
        Court until such time as the locations and space are 
        established.
          (5) Information on any factors which are not under 
        the control of the Family Court which interfere with or 
        prevent the Family Court from carrying out its 
        responsibilities in the most effective manner possible.
          (6) Information on--
                  (A) the number of judges serving on the 
                Family Court as of the end of the year;
                  (B) how long each such judge has served on 
                the Family Court;
                  (C) the number of cases retained outside the 
                Family Court;
                  (D) the number of reassignments to and from 
                the Family Court; and
                  (E) the ability to recruit qualified sitting 
                judges to serve on the Family Court.
          (7) Based on outcome measures derived through the use 
        of the information stored in electronic format under 
        section 11-1104(d), an analysis of the Family Court's 
        efficiency and effectiveness in managing its case load 
        during the year, including an analysis of the time 
        required to dispose of actions and proceedings among 
        the various categories of the Family Court's 
        jurisdiction, as prescribed by applicable law and best 
        practices, including (but not limited to) best 
        practices developed by the American Bar Association and 
        the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court 
        Judges.
          (8) If the Family Court failed to meet the deadlines, 
        standards, and outcome measures described in the 
        previous paragraphs, a proposed remedial action plan to 
        address the failure.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


     CHAPTER 17. ADMINISTRATION OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COURTS.


SUBCHAPTER I. COURT ADMINISTRATION

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



                     SUBCHAPTER II. COURT PERSONNEL

Sec.
11-1721. Clerks of courts.
     * * * * * * *
11-1732. [Hearing commissioners] Magistrate judges.
11-1732A. Special Rules for magistrate judges of the Family Court of the 
          Superior Court and the Domestic Violence Unit.
     * * * * * * *

Sec. 11-1732. [Hearing commissioners] Magistrate Judges

    (a) With the approval of a majority of the judges of the 
Superior Court of the District of Columbia in active service 
and subject to standards and procedures established by the 
rules of the Superior Court, the chief judge of the Superior 
Court may appoint [hearing commissioners] magistrate judges, 
who shall serve in the Superior Court and perform the duties 
enumerated in subsection (j) of this section (or, in the case 
of magistrate judges for the Family Court or the Domestic 
Violence Unit of the Superior Court, the duties enumerated in 
section 11-1732A(d)) and such other functions incidental to 
these duties as are consistent with the rules of the Superior 
Court and the Constitution and laws of the United States and of 
the District of Columbia.
    (b) [Hearing commissioners] magistrate judges shall be 
selected pursuant to standards and procedures adopted by the 
Board of Judges. Such procedures shall contain provisions for 
public notice of all vacancies in [hearing commissioner] 
magistrate judge positions and for the establishment by the 
Court of an advisory merit selection panel, composed of lawyer 
and nonlawyer residents of the District of Columbia who are not 
employees of the District of Columbia Courts, to assist the 
Board of Judges in identifying and recommending persons who are 
best qualified to fill such positions.
    (c) [No individual] Except as provided in section 11-
1732A(b), no individual shall be appointed as a [hearing 
commissioner] magistrate judges unless that individual--
          (1) is a citizen of the United States;
          (2) is an active member of the unified District of 
        Columbia Bar and has been engaged in the active 
        practice of law in the District for the five years 
        immediately preceding the appointment or for such five 
        years has been on the faculty of a law school in the 
        District, or has been employed as a lawyer by the 
        United States or District government; and
          (3) is a bona fide resident of the District of 
        Columbia and has maintained an actual place of abode in 
        the District for at least ninety days immediately prior 
        to appointment, and retains such residency during 
        service as a [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge, 
        except that [hearing commissioners] magistrate judges 
        appointed prior to the effective date of this section 
        shall not be required to be residents of the District 
        to be eligible to be appointed to one of the initial 
        terms under this section or to be reappointed.
    (d) [Hearing commissioners] magistrate judges shall be 
appointed for terms of four years and may be reappointed for 
terms of four years. Those individuals serving as [hearing 
commissioners] magistrate judges on the effective date of this 
Act shall be automatically appointed for a four year term.
    (e) Upon the expiration of a [hearing commissioner's] 
magistrate judge's term, the [hearingcommissioner] magistrate 
judge may continue to perform the duties of office until a successor is 
appointed, or for 90 days after the date of the expiration of the 
[hearing commissioner's term] magistrate judge's, whichever is earlier.
    (f) No individual may serve as a [hearing commissioner] 
magistrate judge under this section after having attained the 
age of seventy-four.
    (g) The Board of Judges may suspend, involuntarily retire, 
or remove a [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge, during the 
term for which the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge is 
appointed, only for incompetence, misconduct, neglect of duty, 
or physical or mental disability. Suspension, involuntary 
retirement, or removal requires the concurrence of a majority 
of the judges in active service. Before any order of 
suspension, involuntary retirement, or removal shall be 
entered, a full specification of the charges and the 
opportunity to be heard shall be furnished to the [hearing 
commissioner] magistrate judge pursuant to procedures 
established by rules of the Superior Court.
    (h) If the Board of Judges determines that a [hearing 
commissioner] magistrate judges position is not needed, the 
Board of Judges may terminate the position.
    (i)(1) [Hearing commissioners] Magistrate judges may not 
engage in the practice of law, or in any other business, 
occupation, or employment inconsistent with the expeditious, 
proper, and impartial performance of their duties as officers 
of the court.
    (2) [Hearing commissioners] Magistrate judges shall abide 
by the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
    (j) A [hearing commissioner] Magistrate judge, when 
specifically designated by the chief judge of the Superior 
Court, and subject to the rules of the Superior Court and the 
right of review under subsection (k), may perform the following 
functions:
          (1) Administer oaths and affirmations and take 
        acknowledgements;
          (2) Determine conditions of release pursuant to the 
        provisions of title 23 of the District of Columbia Code 
        (relating to criminal procedure);
          (3) Conduct preliminary examinations and initial 
        probation revocation hearings in all criminal cases to 
        determine if there is probable cause to believe that an 
        offense has been committed and that the accused 
        committed it;
          (4) (A) In any case brought under Sec. 11-1101(1), 
        (3), (10), or (11) of the District of Columbia Code 
        involving the establishment or enforcement of child 
        support, or in any case seeking to modify an existing 
        child support order, where a [hearing commissioner] 
        magistrate judge in the Family Division of the Superior 
        Court finds that there is an existing duty of support, 
        the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge shall 
        conduct a hearing on support, make findings, and enter 
        judgment as provided by law, and in accordance with 
        guidelines established by rule of the Superior Court, 
        which judgment shall constitute a final order of the 
        Superior Court.
          (B) If in a case under paragraphs [paragraph] (A), 
        the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge finds that 
        a duty of support exists and makes a finding that the 
        case involves complex issues requiring judicial 
        resolution, the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge 
        shall establish a temporary support obligation and 
        refer unresolved issues to a judge of the Superior 
        Court.
          (C) In cases under subparagraphs (A) and (B) in which 
        the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge finds that 
        there is a duty of support and the individual owing 
        that duty has been served or given notice of the 
        proceeding under any applicable statute or court rule, 
        if that individual fails to appear or otherwise 
        respond, the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge 
        shall enter a default order, which shall constitute a 
        final order of the Superior Court;
          (5) Subject to the rules of the Superior Court and 
        with the consent of the parties involved, make findings 
        and enter final orders or judgments in other 
        uncontested or contested proceedings, in the Civil, 
        Criminal, and Family Divisions of the Superior Court, 
        excluding jury trials and trials of felony cases.
    (k) With respect to proceedings and hearings under 
paragraphs (2), (3), (4), and (5) of [subsection (j),] 
subsection (j) (or proceedings and hearings under section 11-
1732A(d), in the case of magistrate judges for the Family Court 
or the Domestic Violence Unit of the Superior Court), a review 
of the [hearing commissioner's] magistrate judge's order or 
judgment, in whole or in part, may be made by a judge of the 
appropriate division (or, in the case of an order or judgment 
of a magistrate judge of the Family Court or the Domestic 
Violence Unit of the Superior Court, by a judge of the Family 
Court or the Domestic Violence Unit) sua sponte and must be 
made upon a motion of one of the parties made pursuant to 
procedures established by rules of the Superior Court. The 
reviewing judge shall conduct such proceedings as required by 
the rules of the Superior Court. An appeal to the District of 
Columbia Court of Appeals may be made only after a judge of the 
Superior Court has reviewed the order or judgment.
    (l) The Superior Court shall ensure that all [hearing 
commissioners] magistrate judges receive training to enable 
them to fulfill their responsibilities (subject to the 
requirements of section 11-1732A(f) in the case of magistrate 
judges of the Family Court of the Superior Court or the 
Domestic Violence Unit).
    (m)(1) The chief judge of the Superior Court, in 
consultation with the District of Columbia Bar, the City 
Council of the District of Columbia, and other interested 
parties, shall within one year of the effective date of this 
section, make a careful study of conditions in the Superior 
Court to determine--
          (A) the number of appointments required to provide 
        for the effective administration of justice;
          (B) the divisions in which hearing commissioners 
        shall serve;
          (C) the appropriate functions of hearing 
        commissioners; and
          (D) the compensation of, and other personnel matters 
        pertaining to, hearing commissioners.
Upon completion of the study, the chief judge shall report the 
findings of such study to the appropriate committees of the 
Congress.
    (2) After the study required by paragraph (1), the chief 
judge shall, from time to time, make such studies as the Board 
of Judges shall deem expedient, giving consideration to 
suggestions of the District of Columbia Bar and other 
interested parties.
    (n) With the concurrence of the District of Columbia Court 
of Appeals, the Board of Judges of the Superior Court may 
promulgate rules, not inconsistent with the terms of this 
section, which are necessary for the fair and effective 
utilization of [hearing commissioners] magistrate judges in the 
Superior Court.
    (o) For purposes of this section, the term ``Board of 
Judges'' means the judges of the Superior Court of the District 
of Columbia. Any action of the Board of Judges shall require a 
majority vote of the sitting judges.

Sec. 11-1732A. Special rules for magistrate judges of the Family Court 
                    of the Superior Court and the Domestic Violence 
                    Unit

    (a) Use of Social Workers in Advisory Merit Selection 
Panel.--The advisory selection merit panel used in the 
selection of magistrate judges for the Family Court of the 
Superior Court under section 11-1732(b) shall include certified 
social workers specializing in child welfare matters who are 
residents of the District and who are not employees of the 
District of Columbia Courts.
    (b) Special Qualifications.--Notwithstanding section 11-
1732(c), no individual shall be appointed as a magistrate judge 
for the Family Court of the Superior Court or assigned to 
handle Family Court cases unless that individual--
          (1) is a citizen of the United States;
          (2) is an active member of the unified District of 
        Columbia Bar;
          (3) for the 5 years immediately preceding the 
        appointment has been engaged in the active practice of 
        law in the District, has been on the faculty of a law 
        school in the District, or has been employed as a 
        lawyer by the United States or District government, or 
        any combination thereof;
          (4) has not fewer than 3 years of training or 
        experience in the practice of family law as a lawyer or 
        judicial officer; and
          (5)(A) is a bona fide resident of the District of 
        Columbia and has maintained an actual place of abode in 
        the District for at least 90 days immediately prior to 
        appointment, and retains such residency during service 
        as a magistrate judge; or
          (B) is a bona fide resident of the areas consisting 
        of Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland, 
        Arlington and Fairfax Counties, and the City of 
        Alexandria in Virginia, has maintained an actual place 
        of abode in such area, areas, or the District of 
        Columbia for at least 5 years prior to appointment, and 
        certifies that the individual will become a bona fide 
        resident of the District of Columbia not later than 90 
        days after appointment.
    (c) Service of Current Hearing Commissioners.--Those 
individuals serving as hearing commissioners under section 11-
1732 on the effective date of this section who meet the 
qualifications described in subsection (b)(4) may request to be 
appointed as magistrate judges for the Family Court of the 
Superior Court under such section.
    (d) Functions of Family Court and Domestic Violence Unit 
Magistrates.--A magistrate judge, when specifically designated 
by the chief judge in consultation with the presiding judge to 
serve in the Family Court or in the Domestic Violence Unit and 
subject to the rules of the Superior Court and the right of 
review under section 11-1732(k), may perform the following 
functions:
          (1) Administer oaths and affirmations and take 
        acknowledgements.
          (2) Subject to the rules of the Superior Court and 
        applicable Federal and District of Columbia law, 
        conduct hearings, make findings and enter interim and 
        final orders or judgments in uncontested or contested 
        proceedings within the jurisdiction of the Family Court 
        and the Domestic Violence Unit of the Superior Court 
        (as described in section 11-1101), excluding jury 
        trials and trials of felony cases, as assigned by the 
        presiding judge of the Family Court.
          (3) Subject to the rules of the Superior Court, enter 
        an order punishing an individual for contempt, except 
        that no individual may be detained pursuant to the 
        authority of this paragraph for longer than 180 days.
    (e) Location of Proceedings.--To the maximum extent 
feasible, safe, and practicable, magistrate judges of the 
Family Court of the Superior Court shall conduct proceedings at 
locations readily accessible to the parties involved.
    (f) Training.--The chief judge, in consultation with the 
presiding judge of the Family Court of the Superior Court, 
shall ensure that all magistrate judges of the Family Court 
receive training to enable them to fulfill their 
responsibilities, including specialized training in family law 
and related matters.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


         TITLE 16, PARTICULAR ACTIONS, PROCEEDINGS AND MATTERS

        CHAPTER 9. DIVORCE, ANNULMENT, SEPARATION, SUPPORT, ETC.


Sec. 16-916.1. Child Support Guidelines

    (a) In any case brought under paragraph (1), (3), (10), or 
(11) of section 11-1101 that involves the establishment or 
enforcement of child support, or in any case that seeks to 
modify an existing child support order, if the judicial officer 
finds that there is an existing duty of child support, the 
judicial officer shall conduct a hearing on child support, make 
a finding, and enter a judgment in accordance with the child 
support guideline (``guideline'') established in this section.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (o) A child support order issued under this section or 
section 5 of the District of Columbia Child Support Enforcement 
Amendment Act of 1985, effective February 24, 1987 (D.C. Law 6-
166; D.C. Code, 30-504), shall be subject to modification by 
application of the guideline subject to the following 
conditions or limitations:
          (1) A party to a child support proceeding shall 
        exchange relevant information on finances or dependents 
        every 3 years and shall be encouraged to update a child 
        support order voluntarily using the updated information 
        and the guideline. Relevant information is any information 
        that is used to compute child support pursuant to the 
        guideline.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

          (6) If a petition to modify a child support order 
        pursuant to this section is accompanied by an affidavit 
        that sets forth sufficient facts and guideline 
        calculations, and is accompanied by proof of service 
        upon the respondent, the [Family Division] Family Court 
        of the Superior Court may enter an order to modify the 
        child support order in accordance with the guideline 
        unless a party requests a hearing within 30 days of 
        service of the petition for modification. No order 
        shall be modified without a hearing if a hearing is 
        timely requested.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 16-924. Expedited judicial hearing

    (a) In any case brought under D.C. Code, section 11-
1101(1), (3), (10), or (11), involving the establishment or 
enforcement of child support, or in any case seeking to modify 
an existing child support order, where a [hearing commissioner] 
magistrate judge in the [Family Division] Family Court of the 
Superior Court finds that there is an existing duty of support, 
the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge shall conduct a 
hearing on support and, within 30 days from the conclusion of 
the hearing, the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge shall 
issue written findings of fact and conclusions of law that 
shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
          (1) The name and relationship of the parties;
          (2) The name, age, and any exceptional information 
        about the child;
          (3) The duty of support owed;
          (4) The amount of monthly support payments;
          (5) The annual earnings of the parents;
          (6) The social security number of the parents;
          (7) The name, address, and telephone number of each 
        parent's employer;
          (8) The name, address, and telephone number of any 
        person, organization, corporation, or government entity 
        that holds real or personal assets of the obligor; and
          (9) A statement that a responsible relative is bound 
        by this order to notify the Court within 10 days of any 
        change in address or employment.
    (b) The alleged responsible relative may be represented by 
counsel at any stage of the proceedings.
    (c) If in a case under subsection (a) of this section the 
[hearing commissioner] magistrate judge finds that the case 
involves complex issues requiring judicial resolution, the 
[hearing commissioner] magistrate judge shall establish a 
temporary support obligation and refer unresolved issues to a 
judge, except that the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge 
shall not establish a temporary support order if parentage is 
at issue.
    (d) In cases under subsections (a) and (c) of this section 
in which the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge finds that 
there is a duty of support and the individual owing that duty 
has been served or given notice of the proceedings under any 
applicable statute or court rule, if that individual fails to 
appear or otherwise respond, the [hearing commissioner] 
magistrate judge shall enter a default order.
    (e) Subject to subsection (f) of this section, the findings 
of the [hearing commissioner] magistrate judge shall constitute 
a final order of the Superior Court.
    (f) A review of the [hearing commissioner's] magistrate 
judge's findings in a case under subsections (a) and (c) of 
this section may be made by a judge of the [Family Division] 
Family Court sua sponte and shall be made upon the motion of 1 
of the parties, which shall be filed within 30 days after the 
judgment. An appeal to the District of Columbia Court of 
Appeals may be made only after a hearing is held in the 
Superior Court.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


                CHAPTER 23. FAMILY DIVISION PROCEEDINGS


 SUBCHAPTER I. PROCEEDINGS REGARDING DELINQUENCY, NEGLECT, OR NEED OF 
                              SUPERVISION

Sec.
16-2301. Definitions.
16-2301.1 References deemed to refer to Family Court of the Superior 
          Court.
     * * * * * * *

Sec. 16-2301. Definitions

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 16-2301.1 References deemed to refer to Family Court of the 
                    Superior Court

    Any reference in this chapter or any other Federal or 
District of Columbia law, Executive order, rule, regulation, 
delegation of authority, or any document of or pertaining to 
the FamilyDivision of the Superior Court of the District of 
Columbia shall be deemed to refer to the Family Court of the Superior 
Court of the District of Columbia.

                             VIII. Appendix


           History of the District of Columbia Superior Court

Introduction

    The last major restructuring of the District of Columbia 
court system occurred in 1970. As part of this reform effort, 
the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia received 
testimony and studies from a number of groups about how best to 
proceed. One group, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Administration 
of Justice, comprised of a group of attorneys and court 
experts, prepared an extensive report on the history of the 
District of Columbia court system.\50\ The following is a 
summary of its findings.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \50\ Hearing Report, Committee on the District of Columbia and 
Subcommittee on Improvements in Judicial Machinery of the Committee on 
the Judiciary, United States Senate, 91st Congress, First Session, May 
19-22, July 25-27, and August 7, 1969, pp. 562-587.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Prior to 1970, the original jurisdiction over legal matters 
in District of Columbia was split among 3 separate courts: the 
District of Columbia Court of General Sessions, the United 
States District Court for the District of Columbia, and the 
Juvenile Court. At that time, the jurisdiction of these courts 
in some cases overlapped and in other cases were fragmented. 
This appeared to be a result of a long history of reforms in 
the court system.

United States District Court

    The history of the District of Columbia court system began 
with the Organic Act of 1801 which established a Circuit Court 
for the District of Columbia. The Circuit Court was given 
jurisdiction over all federal and local cases, criminal and 
civil, within the District of Columbia.\51\ The Organic Act 
also established justices of the peace with jurisdiction over 
all petty civil claims and petty criminal offenses.\52\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \51\ Organic Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 103, ch. 15.
    \52\ Organic Act of 1801, 2 Stat. 103, ch. 15.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1802, Congress established a District Court for the 
District of Columbia. The jurisdiction of the Circuit Court was 
vested in the newly established District Court; however the 
decisions of the District Court were appealable to the Circuit 
Court and the Circuit Court retained original jurisdiction over 
local cases.\53\ Then in 1838, Congress established the 
Criminal Court of the District of Columbia and gave it original 
jurisdiction over criminal cases in District of Columbia. This 
left the District Court with appellate jurisdiction over 
criminal cases and original jurisdiction over civil cases.\54\ 
In 1863, Congress created the Supreme Court of the District of 
Columbia and transferred all of the jurisdiction of the Circuit 
Court to this new Court. Even though the Criminal Court and the 
District Court still existed, their powers were also 
effectively transferred to the Supreme Court.\55\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \53\ Hearing Report, Committee on the District of Columbia and 
Subcommittee on Improvements in Judicial Machinery of the Committee on 
the Judiciary, United States Senate, 91st Congress, First Session, May 
19-22, July 25-27, and August 7, 1969 (``D.C. Courts Hearing Report''), 
p. 566 (citing Act of April 29, 1802, ch. 31, sec. 24, 2 Stat. 166).
    \54\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 566 (citing Act of July 7, 
1838, ch. 192, 5 Stat. 306).
    \55\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at pp. 566-67.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 1870, the Criminal Court was formally merged with the 
Supreme Court but a new criminal court, the Police Court was 
established. The Police Court was given jurisdiction over the 
criminal offenses covered by the justices of the peace.\56\ 
This jurisdiction was very limited and included all offenses 
against the United States not punishable by imprisonment and 
all offenses against the laws of District of Columbia Later, in 
1891, the Police Court lost exclusive jurisdiction over these 
offenses and the Supreme Court was given concurrent 
jurisdiction with the Police Court.\57\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \56\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 574 (citing Act of June 17, 
1870, 16 Stat. 153).
    \57\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 575 (citing Act of March 3, 
1891, 26 Stat. 848).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This new Supreme Court, like the original Circuit Court in 
1801, was given appellant and original jurisdiction over 
federal and local actions. In 1936, the name of the Supreme 
Court was changed to the District Court for the District of 
Columbia and, in 1948, District of Columbia was recognized a 
federal judicial district which resulted in the District Court 
becoming the official federal court as we know it today.\58\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \58\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 567.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

District of Columbia Court of General Sessions

    Beginning in 1801, the jurisdiction of the justices of the 
peace established by the Organic Act, increased. They heard 
small civil claims and over time the amount of claims under 
their jurisdiction increased and, in 1901, a Justices of the 
Peace Court was officially established.\59\ In 1909, the 
Justices of the Peace Court was reconstituted as the Municipal 
Court and, in 1942, the Police Court merged with the Municipal 
Court giving the Court limited jurisdiction over criminal 
offenses. Over the years, the size of the civil claims over 
which the court had jurisdiction increased and, in 1956, the 
Municipal Court also received general jurisdiction over 
domestic relations matters (formerly under the jurisdiction of 
the District Court).\60\ In 1962, the Municipal Court was 
renamed as the District of Columbia Court of General 
Sessions.\61\ This Court, unlike the Circuit and then District 
Court, had jurisdiction over small civil claims and petty 
criminal cases in addition to domestic relations. The reason 
for the gradual increase in jurisdiction was due, in part, to 
alleviating the increasing caseload in the District Court.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \59\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 573 (citing Act of March 2, 
1901, 31 Stat. 1189).
    \60\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 575.
    \61\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 575.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Juvenile Court

    The Juvenile Court was an outgrowth of the Police Court and 
was established in 1906. This Court was a legal recognition of 
practices that had occurred in Police Court and in society at 
the time namely that adult criminal sanctions for juveniles 
were too harsh.\62\ The Juvenile Court was given exclusive 
jurisdiction over all children under 18 years of age except the 
court could waive jurisdiction to the United States District 
Court if the child was over 16 or it was a capital offense. The 
Juvenile Court also had jurisdiction over paternity and 
contributing to the delinquency of a minor cases.\63\ In 1951, 
it was given concurrent jurisdiction with the District Court 
over desertion and criminal non-support cases.\64\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \62\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 579 (citing Act of March 19, 
1906, Ch. 960, 34 Stat. 73).
    \63\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 580.
    \64\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 580.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Congressional Review of Court System in 1960s

    This process, which began in 1801, culminated in the courts 
that existed prior to the last major restructuring of the 
District of Columbia court system in 1970. The District Court 
for the District of Columbia, although a federal court, still 
maintained significant jurisdiction over local civil and 
criminal cases. The District of Columbia Court of General 
Sessions only had limited jurisdiction over the small civil 
claims (formerly under the Justice of the Peace Court), minor 
offenses (formerly under the Police Court), and domestic 
relations (formerly under the District Court). The Juvenile 
Court had jurisdiction over minors, paternity cases, desertion 
and criminal non-support but shared jurisdiction over the 
latter with the District Court.
    In the late 1960s, several commissions were established to 
review the status of the District of Columbia court system. 
This was due in large part to a marked increase in crime and 
the problem of backlog in the United States District Court due 
to local cases. Among the Commissions established to review 
this situation and make recommendations on reforming the court 
system was the Ad hoc Committee on the Administration of 
Justice. This committee was assigned the task of reviewing the 
history of the District of Columbia court system.\65\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \65\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 562.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This Committee highlighted the problems with the Juvenile 
Court at the time. They noted that one problem was that the 
Juvenile Court was not confined to juveniles because it also 
included adults in criminal non-support cases and paternity 
cases. It also noted that family matter jurisdiction was 
fragmented with the District Court having concurrent 
jurisdiction over criminal non-support and children tried as 
adults and with the Court of General Sessions having 
jurisdiction over divorce, separation, annulment, adoption, 
custody, civil support, and domestic violence. Further, 
domestic relations cases within the Court of General Sessions 
were not a division but only a branch of the civil division 
within the Court.\66\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \66\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 562.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Because of the fragmentation of family matters in the court 
system, in 1967, the President's Commission on Crime in the 
District of Columbia recommended that a Family Court be 
established to handle all family matters.\67\ The Committee on 
the Administration of Justice recommended consolidating family 
matters under one umbrella but not as a separate court. The 
Committee recommended that the juvenile court be made a 
division of the Court of General Sessions. The reasons 
included: (1) it would be consistent with the historical trend 
of developing a local court of general jurisdiction, (2) it 
would reduce duplication of personnel and other activities, (3) 
it would reduce scheduling conflicts for police, attorneys, 
clients, and witnesses, and (4) it would increase the quality 
of judges serving.\68\ Specifically, they noted:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \67\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 581.
    \68\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 581.

          Having a larger pool of judges who could move in and 
        out of the Juvenile division and other parts of the 
        court would broaden a judge's judicial experience, keep 
        him abreast of general development of the law, and 
        ensure a higher quality of judiciary, because judges 
        who might refuse to specialize in a steady diet of one 
        aspect of the law would be willing to serve for shorter 
        periods of time.\69\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \69\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 581.

    The Committee also noted that, ``[t]he Juvenile Court has 
been in trouble for many, many years, and is at the moment in 
serious trouble. It lacks strength and cannot be adequately 
managed since it is not a part of the central court system of 
our city.'' \70\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \70\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 583.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Committee further quoted Roscoe Pound, rejecting a 
further splintering of the court system: ``Multiplicity of 
courts is characteristic of archaic law.'' \71\ When 
specifically describing the domestic relations branch of the 
Court of General Sessions, the Committee noted that it had its 
own list of judges, clerks, and is separately run from the 
Court in general. The Committee criticized the then-current 
system by stating that the chief judge ``has no power to rotate 
judges in and out of the domestic relations branch'' and 
recommended support for doing away with this restriction.\72\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \71\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 582.
    \72\ D.C. Courts Hearing Report at p. 582.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In addition, to address what it regarded as the ``wasteful, 
disfunctional institutional defects'' [sic] in the court system 
at the time,\73\ Senate Committee on the District of Columbia 
issued its own 893-page publication which consisted of the 
record of hearings on court reorganization. Most of the 
problems the Committee highlighted related to the crime 
increase and backlog as well as the effect of the fragmentation 
of the courts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \73\ ``Reorganizing the Courts of the District of Columbia, and for 
Other Purposes'' (Report No. 91-405, Accompanying S. 2601), Committee 
on the District of Columbia, September 16, 1969, p. 3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Based upon years of review by various Commissions, 
including the Committee on the Administration of Justice and 
the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, Congress 
passed the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal 
Procedure Act of 1970. That Act created the District of 
Columbia court system that exists today. The Act vests judicial 
power over local legal matters in the District of Columbia 
Superior Court and the Court of Appeals for the District of 
Columbia. The District of Columbia Superior Court became the 
court of general jurisdiction and the District of Columbia 
Court of Appeals was made the highest court of District of 
Columbia, whose decisions are appealable to the United States 
Supreme Court.\74\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \74\ Since then, the local District of Columbia court system 
experienced other changes through the District of Columbia Self-
Government and Governmental Reorganization Act of 1973 (Home Rule Act), 
P.L. 93-198, 97 Stat. 779, the District of Columbia Prosecutorial and 
Judicial Efficiency Act of 1985, P.L. 99-573, and the National Capital 
Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 (1997 
Revitalization Act), D.C. Code sec. 4-192 [recodified in 2001 as D.C. 
Code sec. 5-133.17].
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Current Court System

    Through Congress' review of the court system in the 1960s, 
the current process for the appointment of the judges was 
developed. The District of Columbia Superior Court was 
established as a court of general jurisdiction, with five 
branches: family, civil, criminal, tax and probate. Currently, 
the Superior Court is composed of 58 judges and one chief 
judge. In addition to its five divisions, it recently 
established a cross-jurisdictional domestic violence unit. In 
an average year, the Court may dispose of upwards of 160,000 
cases, with 14,000 in the family division alone.
    Currently, Superior Court judges, who are appointed for a 
total term of 15 years, fit the model recommended by the Ad Hoc 
Committee on the Administration of Justice: they are 
generalists who serve extendable one-year terms in the 
different divisions of the Court, with assignments left to the 
discretion of the chief judge. Each one of the 59 judges has 
some of the current caseload of the approximately 4,500 abuse 
and neglect cases on their dockets, even if they have never sat 
on the family division bench.
    The judges must go through a rigorous process unlike judges 
in other local jurisdictions. They are thoroughly screened by 
the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission, the 
President (including investigations by the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation), and the Senate. In addition, during their 
tenure on the bench, they are continually monitored by the 
Judicial Disabilities and Tenure Commission. This process was 
carefully evaluated and recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee on 
the Administration of Justice and Congress when reorganizing 
the Court in 1970.