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Highlights

GAO discussed action necessary to enhance the effectiveness of the federal magistrate system.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress should amend 28 U.S.C. 636(c)(2) by adding the following: "The designation of a magistrate to conduct proceedings in a jury or nonjury civil matter under this section shall not preclude the district court from exercising jurisdiction over any case on its own motion. The district judge shall, however, advise consenting litigants of the reason their matter is not being referred to a magistrate."
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Judicial Conference of the United States 1. The Judicial Conference should encourage district courts and judges who are restricting the use of magistrates to explore methods to increase the use of their magistrates. In this regard, the Conference should improve the system for disseminating information regarding the experience of judges and courts who have been using magistrates extensively to substantially relieve the courts' workloads. This system should more formally and routinely transmit information to the district courts.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Judicial Conference of the United States 2. The Judicial Conference should explain the roles for district judges in advising litigants of the opportunity to consent and should identify ways for district clerks to more effectively execute their notification responsibilities, including the use of followup procedures.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Administrative Office told GAO in January 1984 that neither it nor the Conference plans to act.
Judicial Conference of the United States 3. The Judicial Conference should more formally disseminate to all district courts the criteria used in evaluating and approving applications for new full-time magistrate positions. Further, the Conference and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts should rely less exclusively on court-initiated requests and should identify those courts that should be encouraged to request additional positions.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Judicial Conference of the United States 4. The Judicial Conference should encourage, through the issuance of a policy statement, all district courts to analyze their current use of magistrates and develop within their respective districts a comprehensive plan for using magistrates in the most effective and efficient manner.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Administrative Office told GAO in January 1984 that the Magistrates Committee refrained from endorsing a proposal to encourage courts to develop districtwide plans for use of magistrates.

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