Renewal of Magistrate Judge Civil Consent Pilot Project
The United States District Court for the Central District of California has renewed the Magistrate Judge Civil Consent Pilot Project for an additional two years, with modifications to the deadlines by which the parties may voluntarily consent to the magistrate judge’s exercise of civil jurisdiction.
The Magistrate Judge Civil Consent Pilot Project was established by the Court in 2008, pursuant to General Order 08-09, and commenced on January 2, 2009, for a two-year trial period. Under the Pilot Project, full-time magistrate judges who have completed three years of service with the Court are randomly assigned two civil cases each month, excluding class actions, death penalty habeas corpus petitions, bankruptcy appeals or bankruptcy withdrawal of reference cases, cases referred to a magistrate judge for a Report and Recommendation, and cases in which a request for a temporary restraining order or motion for preliminary injunction is presented when the action is initiated. If all parties timely consent in writing to the magistrate judge’s exercise of civil jurisdiction, the case remains with the assigned magistrate judge for all purposes, including trial and entry of final judgment. By including magistrate judges in civil assignments, the Pilot Project furthers the Court’s core mission of the timely administration and just adjudication of all matters before the Court.
General Order 08-09 called for the Magistrate Judge Civil Consent Pilot Project to be reviewed after two full years of operation. After gathering feedback from the bar and conducting a thorough examination of the Pilot Project’s first two years, the Court concluded that the Pilot Project should continue for an additional two years, with one important modification: the deadline by which all parties may voluntarily consent to the magistrate judge’s exercise of civil jurisdiction was extended to allow counsel more time to meet and confer about whether to consent. For cases originally filed in the District Court, the time by which the defendant may consent was changed from 30 to 42 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The time by which the plaintiff may consent was changed from 30 to 42 days after service upon the first-served defendant. For cases removed from state court, the time by which all parties may consent was changed from 11 to 14 days after the filing of the notice of removal. For cases in which a party is added after all previous parties have elected to proceed before a magistrate judge, the time by which the newly-added party may consent was changed from 30 to 42 days after the order allowing intervention, or after service of the summons and appropriate pleading. These changes are reflected in amendments to Local Rules 73-2.4.1, 73-2.4.2, and 73-2.5, which become effective June 1, 2011. The deadline to consent for cases in which the defendant is the United States, an agency of the United States, or an officer or employee of the United States will remain 60 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant.
The Central District of California has 24 authorized full-time and one part-time magistrate judge positions. The duties of magistrate judges include conducting preliminary proceedings in criminal cases, the trial and disposition of misdemeanor cases, conducting discovery and various other pretrial hearings in civil cases, the trial and disposition of civil cases upon consent of the litigants, and other matters as may be assigned. Magistrate judges are appointed for a term of eight years, and can be reappointed to additional terms.
District Court Executive