November 20, 2014
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
2–221, The Capitol
Re: Judicial vacancies in the District of Columbia
Dear Mr. Leader:
Washington Council of Lawyers urges the Senate to vote, before Congress adjourns, on the pending nominations to fill the four judicial vacancies on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Since its founding as a voluntary bar association in 1971, we have promoted pro bono service and the practice of public interest law. Today, we continue to seek and recommend strategies for all lawyers to find meaningful ways to provide legal services to low-income people in our community. We also offer programs and trainings that increase the availability of high-quality legal representation for persons in need in the District of Columbia.
The current judicial vacancies at the Superior Court impair the Court’s ability to deliver justice to many of our community’s most vulnerable populations. Many of the cases decided in Family Court involve low-income families, including children who are involved with Child Protective Services in abuse and neglect cases. The Family Court has a “one family-one judge” policy, ensuring that a single judge knows the family well enough to make critical decisions. During this period of judicial vacancy, a family assigned to this calendar coudl nonetheless have seen three or four judges. Addressing these cases in a timely manner is crucial to the administration of justice; these vacancies, in turn, prevent the Court from doing so. Filling the vacancies in the Landlord and Tenant, Criminal, and Domestic Violence calendar is also critical in providing equal access to justice for District of Columbia residents.
Without a full complement of judges, the Superior Court cannot effectively address these issues. We urge the Senate to act immediately to address the pending nominations and fill the four vacancies on the DC Superior Court.
Paul S. Lee
President, Washington Council of Lawyers