District of Idaho Judges & Calendars
Magistrate Judge Consent
A Message From the Chief District Judge

Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill

Updated on Sep 10, 2014

As you embark on civil litigation in the District of Idaho, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the range of services provided by the Court's Magistrate Judges and especially consider consenting to have a Magistrate Judge handle all aspects of your case, up to and including dispositive motions, trial and entry of judgment. 

The District of Idaho's Magistrate Judge's have direct experience with nearly all types of civil matters filed in our Court.  Each Magistrate Judge in the District of Idaho underwent a highly competitive selection process and had years of litigation experience before being appointed to the bench. 

Each of Idaho's Magistrate Judges is active in the community and in continuing legal education for law students and attorneys.  They also serve on important committees within the Ninth Circuit.  The District of Idaho's Magistrate Judges bring hundreds of hours of federal judicial experience to their work at our Court. 

I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the consent process and consider consenting to have a Magistrate Judge preside over your case.


The Consent Process: What is it?

Updated on Jan 17, 2018

In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), FRCP 73, and Local Rule 73.1, a Magistrate Judge is available to preside over all aspects of a case, including the jurisdictional authority to:

  •  Schedule, hear, and decide all dispositive and non-dispositive matters;
  •  Schedule, hear, and decide all interlocutory matters;
  •  Conduct jury or non-jury trials;
  •  Enter final orders and judgment; and
  •  Decide all post-trial motions.

Appeals from any final order or judgment entered by a Magistrate Judge are directly to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(3); Fed. R. Civ. P. 73(c). However, a Magistrate Judge’s exercise of this jurisdiction is permitted only if all parties who have appeared voluntarily consent.

This page is for information purposes only and is not intended to supersede the applicable rules Local Rule 73.1, including General Order 324, addressing the consent process.


Consent Information

District Local Rule Civ 73.1

ASSIGNMENT OF CIVIL CASES
TO A MAGISTRATE JUDGE
UPON THE CONSENT OF THE PARTIES

A civil case may be conditionally assigned to a magistrate judge or reassigned from a district judge to a magistrate judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) for any and all proceedings in a jury or non-jury matter, including pretrial, trial, and post-trial motions, and ordering the entry of judgment. Before a magistrate judge can exercise jurisdiction over a civil case, all parties must sign a written consent to proceed before the magistrate judge.

(a)  Notice. The Clerk of Court must notify the parties in all civil cases that they may consent to have a magistrate judge conduct any or all proceedings in the case and order the entry of a final judgment. In all prisoner pro se cases and cases involving an in forma pauperis (IFP) application, Notice of Assignment to United States Magistrate Judge (“Notice of Assignment”) with a consent to proceed form will be sent to the plaintiff by the Clerk of Court at the time the action is conditionally filed. If the case is not dismissed by the initial review order and reassignment was not requested by the plaintiff(s), the case will provisionally remain with the randomly assigned Magistrate Judge, and Notice of Assignment and consent to proceed form will be sent to counsel for the appearing defendant(s). In all other civil cases, the Notice of Assignment and consent to proceed form will be sent to counsel for the plaintiff and first-appearing defendant by the Clerk of Court at the time the first defendant appears. Additional Notices of Assignment and consent to proceed form(s) will be sent to counsel for each subsequently-appearing defendant(s) after their appearance has been made.

(b)  Return of Consent Forms. Any party deciding to proceed before a magistrate judge should sign the consent to proceed form and return it to the Clerk of Court by e-mailing the same in .pdf format to the following address: consents@id.uscourts.gov (or by mail if the pro se litigant does not have electronic capabilities). The Clerk of Court will keep custody of all consent to proceed forms under seal until it is determined whether all parties have consented to proceed before a Magistrate Judge. If all parties to an action consent to proceed before a magistrate judge, the Clerk of Court will file and docket the consent to proceed forms and the case will continue before, or be reassigned to, a Magistrate Judge. Parties are free to withhold their consent without adverse substantive consequences, and the Clerk of Court will take reasonable steps to ensure the voluntariness and confidentiality of consents and requests for reassignment.


RELATED AUTHORITY

General Order No. 324


 


Read more about Magistrate Judges
Read more about the Consent Process
UNLV Magistrate Judge Law Review Article
"Nothing Less Than Indispensable:"  The Expansion of Federal Magistrate Judge Authority and Utilization in the Past Quarter Century.
Celebrating 50 Years of Magistrate Judges
Knowledge Seminar re Magistrate Judges
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How Does it Benefit Me?

Updated on Sep 10, 2014

Speedy trial rights in felony criminal cases require the District’s two District Judges to give priority to trying those cases, sometimes requiring that civil trial dates be moved. Magistrate Judges do not preside over felony criminal trials. As a result, a Magistrate Judge’s trial docket is generally less crowded than those of the District Judges.

Magistrate Judges usually are able to provide earlier and firmer dates for both hearings and trials than might otherwise be possible by a District Judge. Because this District is very busy and the criminal docket is growing rapidly, consenting to proceed before a Magistrate Judge often means your civil case will be resolved more quickly than if before a District Judge.

Additionally, even if parties do not consent, the District Judge to whom the matter is assigned may nonetheless refer all pre-trial proceedings to a Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), FRCP 73, and Local Rule 72.1. For any dispositive matters so referred, the Magistrate Judge will enter a Report and Recommendation for the District Judge’s consideration. At that point, the review process by a District Judge generally takes 60 days. Thus, by consenting to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction at the outset, the parties also can avoid the delays and expense of this review process, while still preserving their appeal rights.


How Do I Consent?

Updated on Jul 31, 2014

After the case is filed, the Clerk of the Court will send the appropriate notice and consent form as provided by the General Order. The consent form affords each party an initial opportunity to consent to having a Magistrate Judge assume complete jurisdiction over the case, including trial and entry of judgment. Each party should make a decision whether to consent to or decline Magistrate Judge jurisdiction as soon as possible. The parties may also file a joint consent, similar to a stipulation, at any time.  

You may, without adverse substantive consequences, withhold your consent, which would preclude Magistrate Judge jurisdiction over dispositive matters. If any party withholds consent, the identity of the parties consenting or withholding consent will not be communicated to any Judge. 


How to File Your Completed Consent Form

Updated on Aug 01, 2014

All Consents are handled separately by the CM/ECF case docket clerks.  The District's docketing procedures are structured to keep the consent process confidential. 

You can submit your completed consent to Magistrate Judge form to the Clerk's Office by mail or you may email them to consents@id.uscourts.gov

The consents will remain confidential until all parties have consented.  Upon receiving consents from all parties, they will all be scanned together and entered onto the docket.


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Filing a Request for Reassignment

Updated on Jul 16, 2014

If a party wishes to file a request for reassignment, you will file your request in paper form.

You can send it to the court by mail or you may email them to  consents@id.uscourts.gov

Upon receipt of your request for reassignment, your case will be reassigned to a United States District Judge.

A request for reassignment will be entered onto the docket, however, no document is attached.  The docket text will not indicate who filed the request so the confidentiality of the filing party remains.


Consent Forms

For more information go to the Consent to Magistrate Judge page.

Notice of Availability
Notice of Availability of a United States Magistrate Judge and Consent Form
Notice of Assignment
Notice of Assignment to a United States Magistrate Judge and Consent Form
Notice of Assignment Pro Se
Notice of Assignment to a United States Magistrate Judge and Consent Form (Pro Se)
Request for Reassignment
Request for Reassignment to a U.S. District Judge

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Consenting to a Magistrate Judge


I just filed a case and it was assigned to a Magistrate Judge.  What do I do now?

Serve the complaint and continue to work on the case as usual.  Discuss the options with your client and decide whether you will consent to having the Magistrate Judge handle the case for all matters and through final disposition.

Upon receipt of the consent form from the court, you should complete it in accordance with your client's wishes.  The form is then mailed or emailed to the clerk's office.  A notation on the docket will be made that the form has been received.  Your consent or request for reassignment is completely confidential which is why you won't file either of these through CM/ECF as you would other filings.  You can find how to file your consent under the section above called, "How to File Your Completed Consent Form".

If my client requests reassignment to a District Judge, how soon will that occur?

If you have not already consented, the case will be reassigned upon receipt of the request for reassignment by the Clerk's Office.

In some cases, there may by several defendants and one defendant has filed a third party complaint and it's going to take forever to get consents and I have pending dispositive motions against some defendants.  What happens then?

A Magistrate Judge can only proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) when all parties consent.  If dispositive motions are filed and all parties have not consented, any party can request reassignment to a District Judge or the Magistrate Judge may, sua sponte, request reassignment to a District Judge to timely resolve any dispositive motions.

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I have a case filed in state court that I am removing.  Will this be handled any differently?

Upon removal, and if assigned to a Magistrate Judge, the consent form will be mailed out immediately to all appearing parties who will have the opportunity to consent or request a reassignment to a District Judge.  Again, the entire consent process is confidential, unless and until, all parties consent and then all consents are filed at that time.  Other than that, your case will be handled just the same as any other case.

How will consents/requests for reassignments be handled so the judges will not know which party requested the reassignment? 

The process is completely confidential.  All consents and requests for reassignment are handled separately by the CM/ECF case docket clerks.  The District's docketing procedures are structured to keep the consent process confidential.  Therefore, your decision to consent or request reassignment will have no effect on the timely and fair resolution of your case.

What if a party doesn't return the consent form?

If your case is originally assigned to a Magistrate Judge, it will automatically be reassigned to a District Judge if any party does not affirmatively consent to the Magistrate Judge's jurisdiction.  Generally, the parties have 60 days to consent to a Magistrate Judge's jurisdiction.  This period may be extended or shortened.  Once reassigned to a District Judge, the matter proceeds as if the case was originally assigned to a District Judge.

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I have parties that I can't serve.  What about them?

Unserved parties, like unnamed defendants, are not "parties" to the action.  Therefore, as long as all "parties" have consented, the action will remain with a Magistrate Judge.  However, once a new party is named and served, that party must consent to the Magistrate Judge's jurisdiction; if not, the matter will be reassigned.

Why would I want to consent to a Magistrate Judge?  What would be the advantage to my client?

Speedy trial rights in felony criminal cases require Idaho's two District Judges to give priority to trying those cases, sometimes requiring that civil trial dates be moved.  Magistrate Judges do not preside over felony criminal trials.  As a result, Magistrate Judge's trial dockets are generally less crowded than those of the District Judges.

Magistrate Judges usually are able to provide earlier and firmer dates for both hearings and trials than might otherwise be possible by a District Judge.  Because this District is very busy and the criminal docket is growing rapidly, consenting to proceed before a Magistrate Judge often means your civil case will be resolved more quickly than if before a District Judge.

Additionally, even if parties do not consent, the District Judge to whom the matter is assigned may nonetheless refer all pre-trial proceedings to a Magistrate Judge pursuant to 27 U.S.C. § 636 (b), FRCP 73, and Local Rule 72.1.  For dispositive matters so referred, the Magistrate Judge will enter a Report and Recommendation for the District Judges consideration.  At that point, the review process by a District Judge generally takes 60 days.  Thus, by consenting to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction at the outset, the parties also can avoid the delays and expense of this review process, while still preserving their appeal rights.

I have spoken with opposing counsel and we want to consent as quickly as possible to get some motions decided.  Do we have to follow the whole consent process outlined?

Yes, if all parties want to consent, they must send in their respective consent forms within the 60 day period to consent.  Absent consent, the assigned Magistrate Judge will not have jurisdiction other than over scheduling and ministerial matters, and the matter will be reassigned to a District Judge.

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What if I know early on that I will be requesting a reassignment to a District Judge?  Do I wait to file my request or should I file it immediately?

That's up to you, however, the sooner you file your request for reassignment, the sooner the matter will be reassigned to a District Judge.

How do I request a reassignment to a District Judge?

One of two ways:  First, you can either withhold your consent; again, if all parties do not consent within the 60 day period to consent, the matter will be reassigned to a District Judge automatically.  Second, you can file a request for reassignment to a District Judge.  Once you have consented to  Magistrate Judge jurisdiction, however, you cannot later request reassignment to a District Judge.

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