The House yesterday gave final congressional approval to a measure that would raise from $750 to $2,000 the limit on small-claims court cases in the District.
The bill also requires that retired D.C. judges be deemed qualified to serve by the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure before they can be given cases.
There is no such requirement now, and the chief judges of the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Appeals Court may assign cases to retired judges without any review.
The legislation now goes to the president for his signature. The administration has not taken a position on the bill, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget said.
Raising the limit on small-claims cases would enable the speedy disposition of more uncomplicated cases and would mean more individuals could take claims to court without a lawyer. It would also help reduce a large and growing backlog in the District's court system, according to proponents.
The House had approved the small-claims provisions as part of another bill to transfer authority to appoint District judges from the president to the D.C. mayor. That legislation, opposed by the administration, has not gone anywhere in the Senate.
The Senate, therefore, broke off the uncontroversial small-claims part and tacked it onto the retired judges measure. The House, which also had approved the retired judges bill earlier, had to vote again on the legislation since the small-claims provisions were added to it.