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Overview of the Washington, D.C., Court System

As a resident of Washington, D.C., you may at some point find yourself dealing with a legal issue, so it's important to understand the structure of the court system there.

Although the District of Columbia is not one of the 50 states, its court system is similar to those in most states. D.C.'s court system has two tiers, while most state systems have trial courts as the first level, appellate courts at the second level, and a supreme court as the third level. While the D.C. system has the one trial court level, it has just one appellate level.

At the trial court level is the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which hears all local trial matters, including civil, criminal, family court, probate, tax, landlord-tenant, small claims, and traffic.

Decisions appealed from the Superior Court go straight to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which serves as the highest court for the District. D.C.'s Court of Appeals is functionally the “supreme court” of the District. The Court of Appeals handles appeals of cases local to D.C. and should not be confused with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is a federal court also located in Washington, D.C.

Finding an Attorney in Washington, D.C.

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always highly recommended. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated District of Columbia attorney by location and practice area, allowing you to find a knowledgeable attorney who can help you with your particular legal issue.