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« New DC Eviction Procedures | Main | Nightmare DC Tenants »

Magistrate Judges in DC Landlord Tenant Court

As of January 1, 2018 a couple types of DC landlord and tenant cases will be potentially heard in front of Magistrate Judges instead of Associate Judges. First, all cases before Housing Conditions Court will be heard by a Magistrate Judge. Second, cases in landlord and tenant court will be heard by a Magistrate Judge on Fridays.

So what, you might ask? A judge is a judge. Not exactly. To have your case heard before a Magistrate Judge all parties have to agree and sign a paper saying they agree. In Housing Conditions Court that’s no big deal. There is rarely any money at stake and the court is focused on finding solutions to problems between landlords and tenants, not punishing anyone. However, for eviction cases the potential for problems is serious. Eviction cases are taken very seriously by the Court of Appeals. Any appearance that there has been any irregularity could be a problem. It is much easier is question the authority of a Magistrate Judge. The Magistrate Judges are completely capable but they have less authority. So there is some risk with allowing your eviction case to go forward before a Magistrate Judge. It’s a hard choice and one that will likely be strategic and different in different cases. If we can help you sort out how to proceed with your case contact us.  

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