Current through October 23, 2012
(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)(D).
(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 in the Family Court to whom the action or proceeding is assigned for the duration of the action or proceeding to the greatest extent practicable, feasible, and lawful, subject to subparagraph (2)(C).
(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 6 months or, in extraordinary circumstances, for not more than 12 months after ceasing to serve if --
(i) the case remains at all times in full compliance with Public Law 105-89, if applicable; and
(ii) if Public Law 105-89 is applicable, the chief judge determines, in consultation with the presiding judge of the Family Court, based on the record in the case and any unique expertise, training or knowledge of the case that the judge might have, that permitting the judge to retain the case would lead to permanent placement of the child more quickly than reassignment to a judge in the Family Court.
(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) [4(c)] of the District of Columbia Family Court Act of 2001 [§ 11-1101, note];
(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.
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(Jan. 8, 2002, 115 Stat. 2108, Pub. L. 107-114, § 4(a).)
References in Text
Section 4(b) [4(c)] of the District of Columbia Family Court Act of 2001, referred to in paragraph (e)(1), is classified to § 11-721.