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Judicial Reform States District Of Columbia

District Of Columbia Court of Appeals

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District of Columbia


About The Court:

The Superior Court of the District of Columbia is the trial court that deals with cases concerning civil, criminal, and tax trials among many additional topics. The Court consists of 1 chief judge, 61 associate judges, 24 magistrate judges, and a number of retired judges.

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Without a Reasonable Doubt Defended and Upheld

Thu, 07/31/2014

Earl Workman v. United States: After pulling over Workman for a traffic violation police searched his vehicle and observed a partially empty tequila bottle in his back seat. They charged him with driving in possession of an open container of alcohol (POCA). Workman appealed the conviction stating that the label on the bottle is not enough proof to establish that the contents of the bottle were alcohol related, especially since the police did not touch, smell, or keep the bottle for evidence.


The DC Court ruled in favor of Workman, stating that the US Constitution, in the Due Process Clause, establishes that guilt of an offence has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that, in this case, the lack of absolute proof concerning the contents of the bottle lead a reasonable doubt to form. Through this decision, the court limits the power of the law and of police to convict on insufficient evidence.

Read the full decision here

Over-Regulation Leads to Wrongful Citations

Thu, 07/10/2014

Rouzbeh Mazanderan v. DC Dept. of Public Works: Mazanderan was cited for and given notice that he must pay a fee for being in ownership of a Nuisance Vacant Lot. Under this citation, one must be guilty of having "forbidden litter or debris" on the land, whereas Mazanderan only had large weeds growing on the property. As a result, the Court found that Mazanderan was actually guilty of a different violation, one for which both warnings a grace period for paying a fine is given.


The DC Court ruled in favor of Mazanderan, accepting the evidence that he presented, supporting the facts that he was charged with the wrong regulation violation, that he should have had warnings associated to the overgrowth of his property, and that he should have more time to pay the fee. The lesson of this case: that the over regulation of what people are or are not allowed to do with their property is becoming so confusing that even the Dept. of Public Works cannot keep it straight.

Read the full decision here

White House Protest Caught Under Double Jeopardy

Thu, 07/03/2014

Richard Duffee v. DC: Duffee and his 14 co-appellants were convicted of blocking passage and protesting without approval in front of the White House after they had organized an anti-war demonstration. Duffee appeals that the protesters are being judged under double jeopardy because the blocking of the passage and the protesting without permission are based on the same action. He also appeals that blocking the passage and breaching peace are the same thing.


The DC Court, when evaluating this case by comparing it to the regulations set by the National Parks Service, decided to uphold and reverse in part. The Court agreed that double jeopardy was in play and they dropped the disturbing the peace charge. Overall though, the Court upheld that the protest was unwarranted and illegal.

Read the full decision here