Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–502. Commission on Mental Health; composition; appointment and terms of members; organization; chairperson; salaries.

(a) The Commission on Mental Health is continued. The Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia shall appoint the members of the Commission, and the Commission shall be composed of 9 members and an alternate chairperson. One member shall be a magistrate judge of the Court appointed pursuant to title 11, District of Columbia Official Code, who shall be a member of the bar of the Court and has engaged in active practice of law in the District of Columbia for a period of at least 5 years prior to his or her appointment. The magistrate judge shall be the Chairperson of the Commission and act as the administrative head of the Commission. The Chairperson shall preside at all hearings and direct all of the proceedings before the Commission. Eight members of the Commission shall be psychiatrists or qualified psychologists, as those terms are defined in section 21-501, who have not had less than 5 years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

(b)(1) Appointment of members of the Commission shall be for terms of 4 years.

(2) The initial appointment of a psychiatrist or a qualified psychologist shall be for a probationary period of one year. After the initial one-year probationary appointment, subsequent appointments of the psychiatrist or qualified psychologist shall be for terms of 4 years.

(c) The psychiatrist or qualified psychologist members of the Commission shall serve on a part-time basis and shall be rotated by assignment of the Chief Judge of the Court, so that at any one time the Commission shall consist of the Chairperson and 2 members, each of whom is either a psychiatrist or a qualified psychologist. Members of the Commission who are psychiatrists or qualified psychologists may practice their professions during their tenures of office, but may not participate in the disposition of a case of a person in which they have rendered professional service or advice.

(d) The Chief Judge of the Court shall appoint a magistrate judge of the Court to serve as an alternate Chairperson of the Commission. The alternate Chairperson shall serve on a part time basis and act as Chairperson in the absence of the permanent Chairperson.

(e) The rate of compensation for the members of the Commission who are psychiatrists or qualified psychologists shall be fixed by the Executive Officer of the Court.


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 751, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 567, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 150(c)(1); Oct. 30, 1986, Pub. L. 99-591, title I, § 154, 100 Stat. 3341-356; Apr. 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-283, § 2(d), 50 DCR 917; Dec. 10, 2004, 118 Stat. 3472, Pub. L. 108-450, § 2(a).)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-502.

1973 Ed., § 21-502.

Effect of Amendments

Pub. L. 99-591, in subsec. (a), rewrote the last sentence which read: “Eight members of the Commission shall be physicians who have been practicing medicine in the District of Columbia and who have had not less than five years’ experience in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.”; and rewrote subsec. (c) which had read:

“(c) The physician-members of the Commission shall serve on a part-time basis and shall be rotated by assignment of the Chief Judge of the court, so that at any one time the Commission shall consist of the Chairman and two physician-members. Physician-members of the Commission may practice their profession during their tenure of office, but may not participate in the disposition of the case of a person in which they have rendered professional service or advice.”

Pub. L. 108-450 rewrote the section.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition of applicability provision for § 2(d), (k)(2), (m), (q)(3) and (4), (s), and (t) of D.C. Act 14-265, see § 4 of Mental Health Commitment Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-265, January 30, 2002, 49 DCR 1450).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(d) of Mental Health Commitment Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-265, January 30, 2002, 49 DCR 1450).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(d) of Mental Health Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-350, April 24, 2002, 49 DCR 4417).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section applicable upon enactment of certain legislation by the United States Congress, see §§ 2(d) and 3 of Mental Health Civil Commitment Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-546, December 12, 2002, 50 DCR 199).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see §§ 2(d) and (3) of Mental Health Civil Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-41, March 24, 2003, 50 DCR 2784).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2(d) of D.C. Law 14-131, in subsec. (a), in the last sentence, inserted “or qualified psychologists” after “Eight members of the Commission shall be physicians”; in subsec. (c), in the first sentence, substituted “The physician-members and psychologist-members” for “The physician-members”, and substituted “2 members, each of whom is either a physician or a qualified psychologist” for “two physician-members”, and in the last sentence, substituted “ Physician-members and psychologist-members” for “Physician-members”.

Section 4 of D.C. Law 14-131 provided: “Sec. 4. Applicability. Section 2(d), (k)(2), (m), (q)(3) and (4), (s), and (t) shall apply upon the enactment of legislation by the United States Congress that states the following: Notwithstanding any other law, section 2(d), (k)(2), (q)(3) and (4), (s), and (t) of the Mental Health Commitment Temporary Act of 2002, adopted by the Council of the District of Columbia, is enacted into law.”

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 14-131 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

References in Text

The Classification Act of 1949, as amended, referred to in the first sentence in subsection (e) of this section, was repealed by the Act of September 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 632, Pub. L. 89-554, § 8(a).

Editor's Notes

Governing Body of the Commission on Mental Health Services established: See Mayor’s Order 88-168, July 13, 1988.

Section 2(c) of Pub. L. 108-450, 118 Stat. 3472, the District of Columbia Mental Health Civil Commitment Modernization Act of 2004, provided:

“(c) Effective date; Transition for current members.—The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act, except nothing in this section or the amendments made by this section may be construed to affect the appointment or term of service of any individual who serves as a member or alternate member of the Commission on Mental Health (including an individual who serves as the Chairperson or alternate Chairperson of the Commission) on such date.”

Applicability of §§ 2(d), (e), (l)(2), (n), (r)(3) and (4), (t), and (u) of Law 14-283: Section 3 of Law 14-283 provided that section 2(d), (e), (l)(2), (n), (r)(3) and (4), (t), and (u) shall apply upon the enactment of legislation by the United States Congress that states the following:

“Notwithstanding any other law, section 2(d), (e), (l)(2), (r)(3) and (4), (t), and (u) of the Mental Health Civil Commitment Act of 2002, adopted by the Council of the District of Columbia, is enacted into law.”