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Regarding the "docket soundings" in Lee County. What are your thoughts on a Magistrate being assigned a docket sounding without consent from all parties?

In Lee County, Circuit Judges are setting “docket soundings” where a summary judgment motion can be heard, and automatically referring these “docket soundings” to a Magistrate without the consent of the parties. As the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure require that magistrate jurisdiction can only be made if consented to by all parties, the Lee County Courts have thus chosen to ignore the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, or are hoping that the majority of homeowners are not aware of the constraints on magistrate jurisdiction so that more foreclosures can be railroaded through the system.


U.S. magistrates are judicial officers appointed by the judges of federal district courts pursuant to the United States Magistrates Act (28 U.S.C.A. §§ 631 et seq.), enacted in 1968. This act was designed to reduce the workload of federal courts by replacing the old system of U.S. commissioners with a new system of U.S. magistrates. U.S. magistrates can perform more judicial functions than could U.S. commissioners. Federal magistrates may be assigned some, but not all, of the duties of a federal judge. They may serve as special masters (persons appointed by the court to carry out a particular judicial function on behalf of the court), supervise pretrial or discovery proceedings, and provide preliminary consideration of petitions for post conviction relief. U.S. magistrates generally may not decide motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment, because these motions involve ultimate decision making, a responsibility and duty of the federal courts. However, if all the parties to a case agree, a federal magistrate may decide such motions and may even conduct a civil or misdemeanor criminal trial. Federal magistrates are not permitted to preside over felony trials or over jury selection in felony cases.

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William A. Roper, Jr.

While the correct answer certainly depends upon the identity, fairness and competence of the magistrate versus the judge, I would generally think that having a magistrate assigned very well may be to your advantage.

The Courts are VERY BUSY, especially in the jurisdictions where the mortgage meltdown was most acute.  The Judges have a legitimate interest in dispensation of justice to ALL.

Should a murderer or rapist go free so that you can have some more time before the judge?

I realize that this is a little overly dramatic (and may not apply where criminal and civil matters are segregated in different courts).  But the point is that EVERYONE is entitled to due process and/or due course of law.

The magistrates usually have fairly limited authority which is subject to review and approval by the Court.  You may get MORE TIME to make your case before a magistrate.

In the end, you should discuss this with a local lawyer.  But I really wouldn't suggest getting off on the WRONG FOOT with your judge by making an issue of his delegation of certain matters to the magistrate.  I would try to WORK WITH THE MAGISTRATE and WIN HIM OVER!
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Thanks for your reply. You made some good points, I appreciate it.

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