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Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Hon. Michael McShane, Chief Judge

Melissa Aubin, Clerk of Court

Consenting to the Jurisdiction of a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the District of Oregon

Oregon's United States Magistrate Judges play a unique and indispensable role in the assignment, management, and trial of civil cases. Since 1979, the parties in a civil action have had the opportunity to consent to having all aspects of their case, including trial, handled by a U.S. Magistrate Judge. In 1984, Oregon was the first federal district court to assign the full range of civil cases directly to U.S. Magistrate Judges upon filing. Because of our success, many other district courts have followed in our footsteps.

You are encouraged to consent to having a Magistrate Judge handle all aspects of your case, up to and including trial and entry of judgment. Because this Court is very busy, consenting to proceed before a Magistrate Judge often means that your civil case will be resolved more quickly than if it remained before a District Judge.

Benefits of Consenting to U.S. Magistrate Judge Jurisdiction

The District Judges have always appointed experienced trial attorneys and state court judges of the highest caliber as U.S. Magistrate Judges. All U.S. Magistrate Judges have undergone a highly competitive merit selection process. Résumés for each of Oregon's U.S. Magistrate Judges are available below. As these résumés demonstrate, each has been and remains active in the legal community. Most have completed at least one eight-year term as a U.S. Magistrate Judge and been reappointed based on detailed, confidential feedback from the lawyers establishing satisfaction with their work. Combined, Oregon's active and recalled U.S. Magistrate Judges bring a total of over 100 years of federal judicial experience to their work at this Court. Each is well-equipped to preside over all types of civil litigation.

Parties who consent to U.S. Magistrate Judge jurisdiction will receive a date certain for trial. The right to a speedy trial in felony criminal cases requires District Judges to give statutory priority to trying those cases, which can sometimes require that civil trial dates be moved.

Unlike District Judges, U.S. Magistrate Judges do not preside over felony criminal trials. As a result, their trial dockets are generally less crowded than those of the District Judges, and they usually are able to provide earlier and firmer trial dates than might otherwise be possible for a District Judge.

Absent consent from all parties, a U.S. Magistrate Judge must enter Findings and Recommendations on dispositive matters and motions for consideration by a District Judge. If objections are filed, the review process by a District Judge generally takes 60 days. By consenting to U.S. Magistrate Judge jurisdiction, the parties can avoid the delays and expense of this review process, while preserving the right of appeal directly to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

How Consent Jurisdiction Works

Civil actions filed in this District are randomly assigned for all purposes in the appropriate division to either a District or Magistrate Judge as the presiding judge. District Judges are appointed by the President, confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate, and hold their position for life. U.S. Magistrate Judges are appointed by the District Judges of each district following a merit selection process and serve for a period of eight years, subject to reappointment.

If all parties consent to jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate Judge, then pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 73(b) the U.S. Magistrate Judge will have the same jurisdictional authority as a District Judge, including 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.

The appeal route from any final order or judgment entered by a Magistrate Judge is directly to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(3) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 73(c).

Parties should consider whether to consent to jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate Judge when preparing to file a case. The following sections address how to file consent.

Consent in Social Security Cases

In cases seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the defendant has elected to consent to U.S. Magistrate Judge Jurisdiction user the terms set forth in In re: Consent to Magistrate Judges Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 636(c) in Social Security Cases, 06-mc-9130, May 26, 2006.

Registered users of CM/ECF who represent plaintiffs must make the determination regarding consent when filing the complaint in CM/ECF instead of using a separately docketed form. If consent is chosen, the case will be assigned randomly to a U.S. Magistrate Judge. If consent is not chosen, the case will be randomly assigned to a U.S. District Judge at the time of filing. See Section 16 of the CM/ECF User Manual for more information on consent to jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate Judge in social security appeals.

Plaintiffs who are not registered users of CM/ECF (typically self-represented plaintiffs) will be randomly assigned a District Judge at case filing.

In any case seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), once a District Judge is assigned, parties may not later consent to jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate Judge. See Standing Order 2024-1.

Consent in Other Civil Cases

In all other civil cases, afterfiling the case, the Court will issue the plaintiff a Consent to Jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate Judge form to serve on all parties. The consent form affords each party an initial opportunity to consent to having a U.S. Magistrate Judge assume complete jurisdiction over the case, including trial and entry of judgment.

Although a party may decide to consent to jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate Judge at any point in the proceedings up until the final disposition of the case,it is strongly encouraged to consent to disposition by a U.S. Magistrate Judge as early as possible and preferably prior to the filing of dispositive motions.

Even if all parties do not consent to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction, the assigned Magistrate Judgewill be responsible for all case management and scheduling activities, will hear and decide all non-dispositive pretrial and discovery matters, and will consider dispositive motions by issuing Findings and Recommendations. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Resumes