In late 1983, D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie I took the unprecedented step of naming 10 retired judges to hear cases, in addition to retired judges who preside on an occasional basis.
Court officials said last week six of the retired judges are still there as the court registers sharp increases in case filings, particularly on the criminal end where the number of drug offenders has skyrocketed.
"Some of the faces have changed, but we still have a list of senior judges who regularly hear cases," said one official.
Even with the addition of seven judges to the court last year, officials said the retired judges are still needed to keep the court's caseload under control.
Six other retired judges hear cases occasionally.
One judge who retired last year, Joseph M. Ryan, was recently named by Moultrie to handle one of two new calendars for accelerated felony trials.
Noted for his speed on the bench and tough sentences, Ryan is being deployed to help clear up backlogs and address the rising demand for swift trials for repeat offenders.
Other retired judges have been assigned to preside over a range of criminal matters, as well as civil and family disputes.
Congress last year passed a law requiring that retired judges be certified for fitness by the city's judicial tenure and disabilities commission before they can continue to hear cases.