President Obama Signs Norton’s Bill for Financial Disclosure and Other Improvements for D.C. Courts

Dec 15, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that President Obama yesterday signed into law her bill (H.R. 4419) to enhance financial disclosure requirements for District of Columbia local court judges and to make other improvements to the D.C. courts.  Norton thanked Senator James Lankford (R-OK), who sponsored the companion bill (S. 2966) in the Senate, as well as Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who were original cosponsors of Lankford’s bill, for helping get her bill through the Senate and sending it to the President’s desk.

Norton’s bill makes the financial requirements for D.C. court judges similar to the disclosure requirements already set for federal judges.  In 2014, the D.C. courts were given a failing grade by a Center for Public Integrity survey for the courts’ judicial financial disclosure rules.  Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, Congress has the exclusive authority to regulate the organization and jurisdiction of the D.C. courts.

“We are pleased the President has signed into law our bill to bring much-needed financial disclosure and other improvements to the D.C. courts,” Norton said.  “Getting a bill through Congress, no matter how uncontroversial, is immensely difficult.  I thank my colleagues in Senate for working with me and turning this important bill into statute.”

The bill includes four provisions to improve the operations of the D.C. courts: authorizes the use of magistrate judges to serve in the Probate Division; grants the D.C. courts authority to accept credit cards, other forms of electronic funds transfer, and checks; increases the jurisdictional amount of the Small Claims and Conciliation Branch of the D.C. Superior Court from $5,000 to $10,000; and allows chief judges of the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals to delegate authority to approve certain reimbursement for vouchers.