A committee chaired by a former president of the D.C. Bar Association has been appointed to consider the possibility of establishing a second local appeals court to help reduce the growing backlog of cases in the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Chief Judge Theodore R. Newman Jr. of the city's appellate court announced formation of the committee during an address yesterday to the third annual Judicial Conference of the District of Columbia.
The committee was selected by the appellate court's Judicial Planning Committee, John W. Douglas, who will be chairman, is also a former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department's criminal division.
The new committee is scheduled to submit a report to the appeals court Sept. 1, 1979, Newman said.
Civil and criminal cases are brought to the D.C. Court of Appeals from D.C. Superior Court. The appeals court also reviews decisions by city administrative agencies, such as the D.C. Unemployment Compensation Board.
According to the 1977 annual report on District of Columbia courts, the number of cases still on appeal at the end of 1976 was 1,110, and 11,327 new cases were filed in 1977. This was described as "the greatest caseload the court has ever experienced."
Twenty seven states now have a two-tier appellate system, including New York and Maryland, Newman said yesterday.
Authority for hearing cases could be divided between the two appellate courts, Newman said, with one court hearing routine appeals and the other hearing significant constitutional questions.
The D.C. Court of Appeals has nine members now.
Newman also told the judges, lawyers and community members who attended yesterday's conference that court officials have been talking with the Law Enforcement Assistant Administration in an effort to secure a federal grant of between $100,000 to $250,000 to begin a pilot project to reduce case backlogs in Superior Court.
Chief Judge Harold H. Greene of the Superior Court told the conference that there has been a significant increase in the number of drunken driving cases brought to his court, primarily due to a police crackdown. There has been less than a 1 percent increase in felony cases, Greene said, and a reduction in civil juvenile delinquency and misdemeanor cases.