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U.S. Magistrate Judges - Judicial Business 2014

Magistrate judges disposed of 1,102,396 matters in 2014, 7 percent fewer than in 2013. This decrease primarily occurred because magistrate judges handled fewer matters in felony cases.

Overall, civil case duties performed by magistrate judges on referral from district judges remained fairly stable, falling 1 percent to 371,672. Magistrate judges issued fewer reports and recommendations on final rulings in civil cases not involving prisoners (down 13 percent to 19,081) and held fewer settlement conferences (down 9 percent to 20,641), but they held more pretrial conferences of other types (up 5 percent to 59,673) and disposed of nearly the same number of nondispositive motions this year as they did in 2013 (down 1 percent to 227,927). Civil cases concluded with finality by magistrate judges with consent increased 1 percent to 15,959 and included 271 jury trials and 138 nonjury trials.

In 2013, the Administrative Office of the United States Courts began using new software to prepare workload statistics for the fiscal year for magistrate judges. Statistics in some categories were recalculated for that year and for previous years. Therefore, statistics for magistrate judges provided in 2013 and thereafter may differ from statistics made available before 2013.

Magistrate judges handled 182,230 felony pretrial matters, a decrease of 10 percent, disposed of 98,288 nondispositive motions in felony cases (down 9 percent), and conducted 29,268 pretrial conferences (down 23 percent). Data indicating that magistrate judges handled a much larger number of proceedings in criminal reentry programs (up 340 percent to 2,631) resulted from an increase in courts providing information on these proceedings, which have been reported separately since 2013. Magistrate judges conducted fewer felony guilty plea proceedings (down 4 percent to 29,536) and handled fewer search warrant applications (down 1 percent to 61,758), arrest warrants/summons (down 13 percent to 46,309), initial appearances (down 8 percent to 93,298), arraignments (down 13 percent to 56,068), and detention hearings (down 10 percent to 45,082). Material witness proceedings increased (up 4 percent to 5,117). Magistrate judges disposed of Class A misdemeanor cases with 8,351 defendants (down 1 percent) and petty offense cases with 98,303 defendants (down 16 percent). The drop in petty offense case defendants stemmed from a decline in defendants charged with immigration crimes (down 17 percent to 59,901).

In cases involving prisoners, including cases dealing with habeas corpus petitions and civil rights claims, magistrate judges issued 26,140 reports and recommendations (down less than 1 percent) and conducted 420 evidentiary hearings (down 4 percent).

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