Appeals from decisions of the District of Columbia Superior Court—the principal trial court in the District of Columbia—are heard by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the highest (and only) appellate court in the D.C. judicial system. The D.C. Court of Appeals also has jurisdiction to review decisions of administrative agencies, boards, and commissions of the District of Columbia government. Although the District of Columbia is not a state, the D.C. Court of Appeals is the highest judicial authority on District of Columbia law and is equivalent to a state supreme court. The Court should not be confused with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is an appellate court in the federal system.
Like appellate courts in the federal system, the D.C. Court of Appeals normally only hears appeals of final judgments made by a Superior Court judge. In other words, most decisions by a Superior Court judge cannot be appealed until the final resolution of the case in the Superior Court.
Proceedings before the D.C. Court of Appeals are governed by statute, case law, and the Court’s own rules. In 2016, the last year for which statistics are available, 1,357 cases were filed with the Court (the overwhelming majority of these cases were appeals) and the Court disposed of 1,573 cases. Interestingly, the Court’s caseload has declined significantly over the last several years. In 2012, for example 2,159, cases were filed with the Court.
The D.C. Court of Appeals is located at 500 Indiana Ave. N.W., Washington D.C. 20001. Oral arguments before the Court are open to the public and are streamed live over the internet. The Court’s docket, which indicates the status of each case before the Court, is also available online.