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U.S. Court For The Southern District Of Ohio Searches For Magistrate

The artwork "Red Neon Circle Fragments on a Blue Wall 1978" on the front of the Walter H. Rice Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Dayton.
McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Laboratory, Inc.
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via the U.S. GSA
The U.S. Court for the Southern District of Ohio serves a population of over five million people.

The Federal District court in southwest Ohio is considering candidates for a new magistrate judge to fill a vacant seat based in the downtown Dayton Federal Building. Unlike federal judges appointed by the president, magistrate judges work for the court.

The U.S. Court for the Southern District of Ohio serves a population of over five million people. But in the Southern District, there are only fifteen appointed federal judges, and that can lead to a lot of congestion in the federal court system.

So Congress devised a system of helper judges, called magistrate judges. Professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister at the UD School of law says magistrate judges essentially help clean up, or clear out, litigation before it goes to trial in front of what he calls an “Article III judge,” a judge appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

“A magistrate judge is going to have to handle, primarily, disputes about discovery. They might do motions to dismiss, all the sort of motions that you handle before you actually get to trial. They help clear up the calendar for the trial judge," he said.

Magistrate judges focus more on the process taking place in the court system, and they don’t handle felony cases. But Hoffmeister says they’ll hopefully have the qualities that you look for in an Article III judge - experience in federal court, knowledge of both civil and criminal law, and service of the law in a fair and impartial way.