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U.S. Magistrate Judges - Judicial Business 2012

Magistrate judges disposed of 1,068,153 matters, 1,191 fewer than in 2011 (down less than 1 percent). Overall, their duties in felony cases declined, but their duties in civil cases increased.

The 264,981 civil pretrial matters handled by magistrate judges (up 2 percent from 2011) included 168,248 motions, 21,139 settlement conferences, and 55,367 other pretrial conferences. Civil cases concluded with finality by magistrate judges with litigant consent increased for the fifth consecutive year, climbing 8 percent to 15,049. Civil jury trials conducted by magistrate judges rose from 306 to 360, and civil nonjury trials decreased from 150 to 139.

Magistrate judges handled 199,686 felony pretrial matters, a reduction of 4 percent, including 106,710 motions and 42,062 pretrial conferences. Felony guilty plea proceedings conducted by magistrate judges fell 8 percent to 30,509, the first decrease in five years. Magistrate judges conducted 376,131 felony preliminary proceedings in 2012, a drop of 4 percent, including 102,737 initial appearances (down 5 percent) and 67,747 arraignments (down 6 percent). They also conducted 49,478 detention hearings (down 8 percent), which tend to be very time-consuming proceedings, and they issued 57,714 search warrants (up 13 percent) and 51,762 arrest warrants/summonses (down 6 percent).

Magistrate judges disposed of 126,714 misdemeanor cases, an 11 percent rise from 2011. Of these cases, 8,763 involved Class A misdemeanors. Magistrate judges disposed of petty offense cases involving 117,951 defendants.

In prisoner litigation, magistrate judges issued 26,346 reports and recommendations and conducted 431 evidentiary hearings. They also issued 4,685 reports and recommendations in Social Security appeals, 9 percent more than in 2011.

In addition to these tasks, magistrate judges considered a large number of criminal complaints and issued many orders that are not included in the statistics for civil and criminal cases.

For data on the work of magistrate judges, see Table S-17 and the M series of tables.