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Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure

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Judicial Reappointments

In addition to its disciplinary function, the Commission has the responsibility to determine whether a sitting judge whose term is expiring, and who seeks a new term, is to be reappointed.

Not less than six (6) months prior to the expiration of his or her term of office, a judge eligible to seek reappointment must file a written declaration of candidacy for reappointment with the Commission. The judge must also submit a written statement, including illustrative materials, reviewing the significant aspects of his or her judicial activities, and must submit on a form provided by the Commission a statement from the judge’s physician attesting to the judge’s health and fitness to continue judicial service.

Once a judge has submitted a declaration of candidacy the Commission begins the evaluation process. The Commission solicits comments from the legal community and the general public concerning the judge’s qualifications, interviews attorneys and Court personnel who have appeared before and worked with the judge, interviews the judge and the chief judge of the judge’s court, and reviews all of its files concerning the judge.

When the Commission has completed its review of the judge’s performance, qualifications, and fitness during the present term of office, it is required to place a judge in one of three categories. If the Commission evaluates a judge as “well qualified”, the judge is automatically reappointed to a new 15-year term. If the Commission evaluates the judge as “qualified”, the President of the United States may, if he chooses, renominate the judge subject to Senate confirmation; if the Commission evaluates the judge as “unqualified”, the judge is ineligible for reappointment or for any future appointment as a judge of a District of Columbia court. The Commission defines the reappointment categories as follows:

  • Well Qualified–The candidate’s work product, legal scholarship, dedication, efficiency, and demeanor are exceptional, and the candidate’s performance consistently reflects credit on the judicial system.
  • Qualified–The candidate satisfactorily performs the judicial function or, if there are negative traits, they are overcome by strong positive attributes.
  • Unqualified–The candidate is unfit for further judicial service.

If the Commission, in the course of a reappointment evaluation, receives information that raises a substantial doubt that the judge is at least qualified, the Commission will provide in summary form the basis for doubt, and provide the judge an opportunity to confer with the Commission.

The final step in the evaluation process is the Commission’s preparation of a written reappointment evaluation report discussing the judge’s performance and his or her fitness for reappointment. The report must be submitted to the President at least sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the judge’s term of office, is furnished simultaneously to the judge, and released to the public immediately thereafter.

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