Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Page 3


Central District Extends Civil Consent Pilot Project


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is extending a program which allows its magistrate judges to exercise all-purpose jurisdiction over civil cases by the consent of parties, for an additional two years, court officials announced yesterday.

The Magistrate Judge Civil Consent Pilot Project was established by the court in 2008 and a two-year trial period for the program began Jan. 2, 2009.

Under the project, full-time magistrate judges who have completed three years of service with the court are randomly assigned two civil cases each month, to aid in the timely administration and adjudication of all matters before the court. 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.

The Central District of California has 24 authorized full-time and one part-time magistrate judge positions. Magistrate judges are appointed for a term of eight years, and can be reappointed to additional terms.

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 are excluded from the program.

After gathering feedback and evaluating results of the project, court officials said it was determined that the program should continue for an additional two years, with a longer deadline for parties to grant consent to allow counsel more time to meet and confer.

These extended deadlines are reflected in amendments to Local Rules 73-2.4.1, 73-2.4.2, and 73-2.5, which become effective June 1.

For cases originally filed in the District Court, the time by which the defendant may consent is 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.

In cases removed from state court, the time by which all parties may consent was changed from 11 to 14 days after the notice of removal was filed.

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.

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.


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