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.