The new chief judge of the D.C. Supreme Court has proposed a broad plan to revamp management of the city's court's that would give trial judges authority over court operations, set down rules for staff conduct and establish a Citizens Advisory Committee.
The proposals were included in a 29.page statement released by Chief Judge II Carl Moultrie yesterday. The proposal, according to Moultrie's office, is basically the same plan the judge submitted to the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission during its deliberations over whom it should pick as new chief judge.
Moultrie and three other Superior Court judges who were under consideration for the chief judgeship were asked by the commission last May to submit written papers describing "how I shall proceed if I am designated chief judge."
The commission made the request after discussions and interviews with the candidates left the panel deadlocked over the choice of a new chief judge. Moultrie was designated chief judge on June 7, three days after the judges' papers were submitted to the commission.
The proposal released by Moultrie yesterday emphazies the two issues that sources had said were of principal concern to the nomination commission: administration of the court and community involvement.
For example, Moultrie listed as one of his priorities the selection of a "strong court executive" to assist the chief judge in "all administrative aspects of the court."
Moultrie said in the statement that he also intends to appoint trial judges to head the criminal, civil, family, probate and tax divisions of the court in order to help him with the day-to-day operations of the city's massive, overburdened local court.
The new chief judge, who was appointed to the Superior Court six years ago, also proposed methods to reduce delays that occur before a case can get a trial. Among other things, Moultrie said he would propose that the court adopt a plan under which panels of lawyers could be designated to act as "judges" in minor civil cases and thus help cut down on case backlogs.
Moultrie said he intends to interview various officials at the court to determine strengths and weaknesses in the court's administration. Once that is accomplished, Moultrie said, he will consider whether to establish a task force, composed of court personel, lawyers and possibly consultants, to fully analyze the present management system.
Moultrie said he would also direct the court's personnel division to develop a guidebook on "professional responsibility" in connection with the appearance and performance of court staff.
Moultrie said he would also establish a set time for the start of court proceedings each day. He noted "serious criticism" leveled at the court because judges take the bench at different times.
The community will be involved in court operations through the creation - on an experimental basis - of a Citizenz Advisory Committee composed of representatives from various civic groups. Moultrie said. He said he would meet with the committee to inform it of court problems and programs.
In turn, Moultrie said, he will encourage the Superior Court judges to meet with citizens groups through a "speakers bureau."