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April 2007
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Checklist for E-Filings in DC Superior Court

Tips recently provided from the DC Superior Court for successful e-filing:

ü     I have the proper full case number and judge having checked at www.dccourts.gov/pa

ü     If I am filing in response to opposing counsel’s filing, I have checked my eService Inbox to make sure the court clerk accepted the opposing counsel’s filing before I eFile

ü     I have typed “/s/” and the filing attorney’s name, applied an imaged signature, or printed the document, had it signed and scanned

ü     I have named my documents appropriately on my computer (i.e. Motion for Summary Judgment, Certificate of Service, Answer, Opposition, Witness List)

ü     I have included a properly completed Certificate of Service with a signature and date of service specifying who and how service was accomplished

ü     I have included a Proposed Order in the efiling

ü     For filings over 25 pages, I am uploading all documents attached to the lead filing in the second field and checking the merger box

ü     For filings over 25 pages, I have also mailed a paper copy to the Judge

ü     I have emailed the Proposed Order to the judge to the judge’s eservice box:

ü     In a Microsoft Word or WordPerfect format

ü     Subject line includes case number followed by case name

ü     email format: judge[lastname]eserve@dcsc.gov or magistratejudge[lastname]eserve@dcsc.gov

ü     I have caused service of this filing to be made


Liability of DC Halfway House For Acts of Former Resident

In Smith v. Hope Village, Inc., No. 05-633 (RBW)(D.D.C. Apr. 12, 2007), the district court denied the defendant's motion for summary judgment, in which the defendant had argued in part that, as a matter of law, a halfway house owes no duty to unknown parties with whom it has no relationship for harm caused by an offender previously housed at the halfway house approximately five months prior to the offender's harmful act. 

An inmate named Kelly had been released from prison into the custody of the Hope Village halfway house in December, 2001.  (Although the opinion doesn't say, the pleadings indicate that the date was Dec. 12, 2001).  On March 7, 2002, less than three months later, Kelly was discharged from Hope Village and was placed under the supervision of the DC Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.  About five months after that, on August 6, 2002, Kelly allegedly broke into a house in Silver Spring where he shot and killed two people -- one of whom was the plaintiff's nine year old daughter.

Kelly had a long rap sheet with numerous felonies, including one involving a loaded gun.

Plaintiff brought a wrongful death and survival action against Hope Village.  The theory of liability was that Hope Village was negligent in its supervision of Kelly, and as a result, the halfway house was responsible for his improper and untimely release into the community.  Plaintiff alleged that Hope Village knew, or should have known, of Kelly's violations of the terms of his conditional release while at Hope Village, yet it never disciplined him.

In its motion for summary judgment, Hope Village argued, among other things, that it does not owe any legally cognizable duty to the plaintiff, or to any parties with whom it has no pre-existing relationship, for injuries resulting from Kelly's criminal conduct five months after he was discharged from the halfway house program.  It also argued that there was no proximate cause due to a lack of foreseeability, and due to remoteness and superseding and intervening negligence.

In a lengthy opinion, Judge Walton rejected all of Hope Village's arguments, finding that Hope Village did owe a duty to people in the local community such as the plaintiff and her daughter, and that the question of foreseeability was for the jury.  Judge Walton also reinstated plaintiff's wrongful death claim, finding that the 3 year statute of limitations under the Maryland Wrongful Death Act applied, not the shorter period of limitations under the D.C. Act.


DC Bar's Virtual Law Library - Law of Lawyering

The DC Bar's website is sporting a "Virtual Library" these days.  Most significantly, it includes a lengthy treatise on the Law of Lawyering, courtesy of the law firm of Covington & Burling, described as follows:

This publication, written by D.C. Bar member David B. Isbell, is a comprehensive analysis of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, which governs the ethical practice of law in the District of Columbia, as well as the attorney discipline system upholding those rules. Published 2004. Updated in part, March 2007, following amendments to the Model Rules in 2002 and 2003 and the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct effective February 1, 2007.

This reference should be among those consulted by any D.C. lawyer researching an ethical issue.