Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts
Reimagining the Courts: Superior Court

General Principles for Court Proceedings

A. Judges will conduct virtual, in-person, or hybrid proceedings from the Superior Court, with limited exceptions as noted in each court division's Reimagining Plan. Access the list of judicial assignments here.

B. Jury trials, non-jury trials, and other evidentiary proceedings (where witnesses are called to testify and are cross-examined) will be conducted in person to provide maximum accessibility of all evidence to judges, attorneys, parties, witnesses, and jurors. Notwithstanding, based on requests of the parties, a judge may decide that unique circumstances in a case warrant converting an evidentiary proceeding to a virtual or hybrid hearing.

C. Although some hearings will be designated as in-person proceedings where the appearance of parties in court is required, litigants required to participate in hearings virtually who otherwise lack internet access or a computer, may participate in court hearings at one of the Court's designated remote sites or in court buildings. Get information about DC Courts Remote Hearing Sites here.

D. We will continue to provide language access to court participants in need of such services.

E. Mediations will be held virtually, unless the Court determines that mediation will occur in person.

G. When permitted by law, members of the public may have real-time access to virtual court proceedings. Access virtual court proceedings here. For criminal jury trials, members of the public must appear in person to view the proceeding in the designated courtroom or virtually from another courtroom.

H. As circumstances vary by case type and division, judges will address unique issues presented in each case guided by these General Principles.

Overview | Reimagining the Court of Appeals

Hearing Participation Guidelines

Definition of Hearing Participation Types

  • In-Person Hearing – The judge and all court participants will appear in person inside the courtroom.
  • Remote Hearing – The judge will conduct the hearing from the courtroom. The court participants may appear by video or telephone outside of the courtroom. If the court participant appears in person in the courtroom the judge may proceed with the hybrid hearing or the court participant can use the onsite remote hearing room.
  • Hybrid Hearing – The judge will conduct the hearing from the courtroom. The court participants may appear virtually via video or telephone outside of the courtroom or in person in the courtroom
  • Virtual Offsite Hearing – The judge will conduct the hearing virtually and the court participants will appear virtually via video or telephone. If the court participant appears in person for the virtual offsite hearing, they can use the onsite remote hearing room.
     

Request to Change Method of Participation Process

General Principles
  • A court participant who appears in person for a remote hearing will be allowed to participate in-person in the courtroom or at a remote location in the courthouse.
  • A motion or notice will not be required for a court participant who appears in person for a remote hearing.
  • A court participant will be required to pay the court fee for filing a motion unless there is an approved fee waiver.
  • A court participant will not be required to pay a fee for filing a notice to change their participation from remote to in person.
  • If a notice or motion is filed, the requesting court participant should send notice to the non-requesting court participant. The court will send notice if required by the rules.
  • The telephone request to change the method of hearing participation will not be used by any division or office.
  • Learn more here about how to change your hearing participation method.
     

Civil

  • To request to appear remotely for an in-person hearing, file a motion with the clerk’s office as soon as possible. Serve the other party by following the motions rules.
  • Once received, the motion will be sent to the case judge for review. Until the judge rules on your motion, you must appear as required by the court notice.
  • To request to appear in-person for a remote hearing, file a written notice with the court seven calendar days before the hearing and serve the notice to the other party.

Criminal

  • A court participant can request to appear remotely for an in-person hearing and to appear in person for a remote hearing by filing a motion subject to the motion rules.
     
Domestic Violence Division
  • A court participant can request to appear remotely for an in-person hearing by filing a motion subject to the motion rules.
  • A court participant appearing in person for a remote hearing will participate in the hearing via a remote hearing location in the courthouse.
  • If a court participant requires an in-person trial for a remote trial, the court participant can file a written motion or make an oral motion on the day of the trial.
     
Family Court
  • A court participant can request to appear remotely for an in-person hearing by filing a motion subject to the motion rules.
  • A court participant who wants to appear in person for a remote hearing is encouraged to file a written notice to the court seven days before the hearing.
     
Multi-Door Division
  • A court participant can request to appear in person for a remote mediation session by filing an application.
  • To request to appear remotely for an in-person mediation session, the court participant should send an email to the case manager.
     
Office of the Auditor Master
  • A court participant can request to appear remotely for an in-person hearing and to appear in person for a remote hearing by filing a motion subject to the motion rules.
     
Probate and Tax Divisions
  • A court participant can request to appear remotely for an in-person hearing and to appear in person for a remote hearing by filing a motion subject to the motion rules.
  • The motion should be filed at least 10 calendar days in advance of the hearing.
Criminal Division
  • The following court proceedings will be held in person:
    • Criminal jury and non-jury trials
    • Criminal guilty pleas, sentencings, and pretrial and probation show cause hearings unless the defendant consents to a virtual proceeding and the judge agrees that it is appropriate
    • As of July 18, 2022, Drug Court and Mental Health Community Court proceedings are routinely be held in person
    • Criminal scheduling conferences and status hearings will be held in person. However, criminal scheduling conferences and status hearings may be held virtually if a defendant is: on release in the community, compliant with release conditions, the defendant consents, and the judge determines in advance of the hearing that a virtual proceeding will be held
  • The following proceedings will be held virtually:
    • Uncontested mental observation hearings
    • Citation arraignments and diversion hearings will be conducted as virtual off-site hearings, unless the judge orders otherwise, including, based on the request of a party
  • Misdemeanor and Traffic (OAG) Calendars will be held in person Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, misdemeanor and Traffic (OAG) Calendars will be held virtually
    • Courtroom C-10: Defendants, for whom the government is requesting detention, will be transported to C-10 to appear in person. All other cases in C-10 will be handled virtually. CJA stand-in counsel will appear in person for all CJA attorneys
    • For more detailed information regarding Criminal Division Calendars, please visit our webpage.
Civil Division
  • The following proceedings will be held in person unless the judge permits virtual participation:
    • Civil 1: Jury trials, pretrial conferences, and contested evidentiary hearings with live testimony, including hearings about whether a party was served
    • Civil II: Jury trials, bench trials, pretrial conferences, and contested evidentiary hearings with live testimony, including hearings about whether a party was served
    • Landlord and Tenant: Bench trials and contested evidentiary hearings with live testimony, including Bell hearings, McNeal hearings, and hearings about whether a party was served
    • Small Claims (including debt collection cases): Bench trials and contested evidentiary hearings with live testimony
  • The following proceedings will be held virtually unless the judge orders otherwise, including, based on the request of a party:
    • Civil I and Civil II: Initial scheduling conferences, further initial hearings, status hearings, motion hearings, ex parte proof hearings, oral examinations, and any uncontested evidentiary hearing
    • Landlord and Tenant: Initial hearings, further initial hearings, status hearings, motion hearings, Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) hearings, hearings on applications to terminate stays of consent judgments, hearings on applications to quash writs, hearings concerning protective orders other than Bell and McNeal hearings, hearings concerning entry of money judgments, and any uncontested evidentiary hearing
    • Small Claims (including debt collection cases): Initial hearings, continued initial hearings, motion hearings, hearings on alias summons, status hearings, ex parte proof hearings, SCRA hearings, oral examinations, and any uncontested evidentiary hearing
    • Tax Sale Foreclosures: All hearings, including initial scheduling conferences, continued initial hearings, status hearings, and motion hearings
    • Mortgage Foreclosure mediation and judgment calendars: All hearings, including initial scheduling conferences, continued initial hearings, status hearings, and motion hearings
    • The judge-in-chambers: All hearings, including hearings on temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction motions, name changes, vital records changes, and master meter cases. These hearings will be conducted as virtual offsite hearings, unless an in-person hearing is required by the court
    • Mediations: All mediations arranged by the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division in all types of civil cases unless the Court determines that mediation will occur in person
  • For more detailed information regarding Civil Division Calendars, please visit our webpage.
Domestic Violence Division
  • Domestic Violence Criminal Courtrooms:
    • Criminal non-jury trials for detained and released defendants will be held in person Monday through Thursday
    • Arraignments, status hearings, deferred sentencing reviews, sentencings, and show cause hearings will be heard virtually unless the judge orders otherwise, including, based on the request of a party
    • All court cases set on Fridays, excluding non-jury trials, will be held virtually unless otherwise specified by the court
  • Domestic Violence civil Courtrooms:
    • Starting September 7, 2022, initially CPO Calendar 114 will operate in person and CPO Calendar 113 will operate virtually. Thereafter, on a weekly basis, calendars 113 and 114 will alternate between in person and virtual hearings
    • All Civil Protection Orders, Anti-Stalking Orders, and Extreme Risk Protection Orders non-jury trials will initially be scheduled for litigants to appear remotely. However, parties may request an in-person trial by filing a motion or making a request for a trial at a scheduled hearing
    • Status hearings and other hearings will be held virtually unless the judge orders otherwise, including, based on the request of a party
  • Attorney negotiators will conduct negotiations in person, by video, or by telephone as needed.
  • For more detailed information regarding Domestic Violence Division Calendars, please visit our division webpage.
Family Court
  • The following proceedings will be held in person unless the judge permits virtual participation:
    • Abuse and Neglect: bench trials and evidentiary hearings
    • Domestic Relations: initial hearings, bench trials, contempt and evidentiary hearings
    • Delinquency: arraignments, initial hearings, bench trials, and evidentiary hearings; disposition hearings may be remote or in-person depending on the circumstances of the case.
    • Mental Health: probable cause and Mental Health Commission cases (hybrid options are available for parties, attorneys, and witnesses); evidentiary hearings, revocation hearings, and trials
    • Parentage and Support: initial hearings, contempt hearings, and evidentiary hearings
    • Family Treatment Court Calendar
    • Fathering Court Calendar
    • Hope Court Calendar
  • The following proceedings will be held virtually unless the judge orders otherwise, including, based on the request of a party:
    • Abuse and Neglect: initial hearings and status hearings
    • Adoption: all hearing types, unless contested or the parties seek an in-person finalization hearing for celebration purposes
    • Uncontested birth certificate and name changes. However, contested bench trials will be held in person for birth certificate and name change matters
    • Domestic Relations: uncontested divorce and uncontested custody hearings, pre-trial conferences, and most status hearings
    • Delinquency: status hearings, guilty pleas, and the making of victim impact statements. Disposition hearings will be in person unless the government and the respondents agree to a virtual hearing
    • Mental Habilitation: all hearing types
    • Mental Health: status and pre-trial conference hearings
  • Marriage Bureau: Applications and marriages may be filed in person and online. Payment of fees may be made in person or online, however application review must be completed in person. For more detailed information, visit this website.
  • For more detailed information regarding Family Court Calendars, please visit our website.
Probate and Tax Divisions
  • The following proceedings will be held in person unless the judge has authorized virtual participation in advance of the hearing:
    • Trials, pretrial conferences, and contested evidentiary hearings with live testimony
    • Initial hearings and scheduling conferences
    • Hearings on Auditor-Master’s Reports
    • Summary hearings for failure to file required filings, such as accounts, inventories, receipts, guardianship plans, conservatorship plans and reports, and other requirements
    • Hearings on Protective Orders
    • Contempt hearings
    • Trials challenging the validity of a will
    • Trials seeking to establish a person as an heir of a decedent
    • Trials in all tax cases
    • Actions to modify, construe or reform the terms of a trust; terminate a trust; declare a person
    • Any other evidentiary hearings the judge deems appropriate
  • The following proceedings will be held virtually unless the judge orders otherwise, including, based on the request of a party:
    • All status hearings, including status hearings on approval of accounts and why the estate remains open
    • Hearings on petitions for guardians, conservators, guardians of minors' estates, guardianship reviews, and any other petitions or motions
    • Hearings on approval of accounts and request for extension of personal representative's appointment or restricting duties
    • All matters in mediation arranged by the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division unless the Court determines that mediation will occur in person
    • The probate basket/queue will be conducted via a virtual offsite hearing, unless the judge orders otherwise
    • Any other hearing or proceeding that the judge finds resolution of certain matters can be achieved through a virtual court hearing
  • For more detailed information about Probate Division Calendars, please visit our division webpage.
    • The Probate Self-Help Center (ProbateSelfHelpCenter [at] dcsc.gov) is currently open and staffed in person on a limited basis. Additionally, the Self-Help Center is also operating on a remote basis to provide information and assistance in filing intervention proceedings and in large and small estate filings.
    • The email address and telephone number for the Guardianship Assistance Program are as follows: GuardianshipAssistanceProgram [at] dcsc.gov and (202) 897-9407.
    • Emergency 21-day temporary guardian petitions can be filed in person or emailed to ProbateEmergencyFilings [at] dcsc.gov. To file a new petition for a 90-day HealthCare Guardian or a Petition for a General Proceeding, file in person or email the petition to probatefilings [at] dcsc.gov.
    • In the Tax Division, self-represented litigants can file documents in person or may continue to email their pleadings or an image of their pleadings via email to TaxDocket [at] dcsc.gov and mail a check or money order for their filing fee to D.C. Tax Division, 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Suite 4100, Washington, D.C. 20001. For questions please contact the Tax Division at (202) 879-1737 or by email at TaxDocket [at] dcsc.gov.
Office of the Auditor-Master

A. All matters before the Auditor-Master will be heard remotely, unless the Auditor Master orders otherwise.

B. Documents may be submitted via email to Auditor-Master [at] dcsc.gov or emailed to the Office of the Auditor Master, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Sensitive documents should be emailed to AMFinancialBox [at] dcsc.gov. For questions please contact the Office via telephone at (202) 626-3280 or email at Auditor.Master [at] dcsc.gov.

Clerk's Offices

All clerk's offices in each division of the Superior Court will be open for both in-person filings and electronic filings. Inquiries may be made to the clerk's offices by telephone and email or through online chats for some divisions. See the webpage of the respective division for details.