With the District of Columbia’s Superior Court grappling with a severe judicial backlog and burnout, the U.S. Senate has taken a crucial step by confirming two new associate judges this week.

With the Senate’s approval of and , the District of Columbia’s Superior Court is set to receive a much-needed boost. The new judges, expected to be sworn in early next week, are a significant step towards addressing the court’s backlog crisis.

A recent report highlighted that many D.C. residents are experiencing years-long delays for case resolutions, exacerbated by a high number of judicial vacancies. Chief Judge Anita Josey-Herring has expressed serious concerns, stating that the court is at a “breaking point.” 

Unlike other cities, D.C. must wait for Senate confirmation of its local judges. Thirteen of the 62 judicial positions have been vacant for months, despite 11 nominations from the White House. To date, a Senate committee has advanced six of these nominees.

The District’s Superior Court handles a wide array of cases, from criminal matters to civil disputes. Current records show significant stress across these areas, with judges in civil courts managing 400 cases each—double the recommended load. In the domestic violence court, four judges each averaged 1,900 cases last year. Additionally, the average time for resolving serious felony cases has increased by nearly seven months since 2019, now taking almost two years.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs took further action by hearing testimonies from five additional Superior Court nominees. The court handles some of the highest case volumes in the nation, and prolonged vacancies on the bench add to the strain, said Chairman Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan. Peters then urged his colleagues to join in confirming “these well-qualified nominees.”

In addition to the vacancies in the Superior Court, the D.C. Court of Appeals has had an unfilled position since 2013.

Douglas Buchanan, a spokesman for D.C. Courts, stressed the importance of continued Senate attention to the issue. 

“It is essential that the members of the United States Senate continue to focus on addressing this crisis so that the D.C. Courts can do all that we can to provide fair and timely justice to all of those we serve across the District of Columbia,” Buchanan said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The ߲ݴý Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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