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U.S. Magistrate Judges - Judicial Business 2013

Magistrate judges disposed of 1,179,358 matters in 2013, 2 percent more than in 2012. This growth occurred as they performed more duties in civil cases and in felony cases.

Overall, civil case duties performed by magistrate judges rose 7 percent to 374,229, primarily driven by increases related to orders on nondispositive motions (up 6 percent to 229,276), settlement conferences (up 8 percent to 22,710), reports and recommendations in civil cases not involving prisoners (up 40 percent to 21,990), and Social Security appeals (up 6 percent to 4,977). Civil cases concluded with finality by magistrate judges with litigant consent rose 6 percent to 15,804 and included 313 jury trials and 142 nonjury trials.

Magistrate judges handled 202,252 felony pretrial matters, an increase of 1 percent, including 110,875 pretrial motions and 38,074 pretrial conferences. Magistrate judges handled 599 proceedings in criminal reentry programs in 2013, the first year such proceedings were reported separately. Felony guilty plea proceedings conducted by magistrate judges climbed 1 percent to 30,745. Magistrate judges conducted 377,176 preliminary proceedings in felony cases (up less than 1 percent), handling 62,054 search warrant applications (up 6 percent), 53,039 arrest warrants/summons (up 2 percent), 8,573 attorney appointment proceedings (down 14 percent), 101,373 initial appearances (down 1 percent), 64,252 arraignments (down 5 percent), 49,956 detention hearings (up 1 percent), and 4,931 material witness proceedings (up 23 percent). Magistrate judges also disposed of Class A misdemeanor and petty offense cases involving 123,156 defendants, 4 percent fewer than in 2012.

In many courts, magistrate judges are assigned pretrial matters and reports and recommendations in prisoner litigation. Magistrate judges issued 26,666 reports and recommendations (down less than 1 percent) and conducted 436 evidentiary hearings in such cases.

This year, magistrate judge workload statistics were produced using a new software program that recalculated the statistics for 2013 and for previous years. In some categories, the statistics provided in this report differ from the ones displayed in those categories in previous reports.

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