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Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, 1893-1934
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 1934-1948
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1948-present
In 1893, Congress established the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia (27 Stat. 434) to hear appeals from the District’s Supreme and Police courts. Its jurisdiction was subsequently modified to include appeals from the Municipal and Juvenile courts. The Court thus exercised appellate jurisdiction over both federal and local matters, distinguishing its remit from that of the United States Courts of Appeals established in 1891. A 1927 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, however, analogized the court’s jurisdiction over federal matters to the Courts of Appeals operating in their respective circuits. The court’s members, appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, were originally known as justices, with the presiding judge named the chief justice.
Congress re-designated the court the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1934, but did not modify its jurisdiction or powers. In 1948, Congress again changed the court’s name to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (62 Stat. 869). In 1954, Congress changed the judges’ titles from justice and chief judge to circuit judge and chief circuit judge and amended the 1948 statute to make the court and its judges equivalent to those of the other judicial circuits (68 Stat. 1226, 1245). The reform of the District of Columbia’s lower courts in 1970-1973 meant that the court heard exclusively federal cases from that point.
In 1978, Congress created a special division of the court for the purposes of appointing special prosecutors to investigate allegations against public officials. The special division was presided over by three judges on a part-time basis for two-year terms. One of these judges had to be from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and no more than one judge could be from any single court. The statute authorizing the Special Division (92 Stat. 1873) expired in 1999.
For a list of judges and other information about the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, see the entry for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
 The judges assigned to this division were John D. Butzner, Jr., of the Fourth Circuit (1988-1998); Richard D. Cudahay of the Seventh Circuit (1998-2002); Peter T. Fay of the Eleventh Circuit (1994-2006); Edward J. Lumbard of the Second Circuit (1978-1984); George E. MacKinnon of the D.C. Circuit (1985-1992); Morgan R. Lewis of the Eleventh Circuit (1978-1988); Wilbur F. Pell, Jr., of the Seventh Circuit (1987-1992); Thomas M. Reavley of the Fifth Circuit (2002-2006); David B. Sentelle of the D.C. Circuit (1992-2006); and Joseph T. Sneed of the Ninth Circuit (1992-1994). Several of the judges served subsequent to the authorizing statute’s 1999 expiration, having been appointed or reappointed to handle unfinished business.