Saying goodbye to U.S. Magistrate Judge Rice on his retirement

For those of us privileged to practice employment law in the Delaware Valley, one thing is true: there is no shortage of excellent lawyers. The judges who hear our cases always show impeccable patience and skill. Employment law cases are truly unique. The law can be nuanced with charge transfer paradigms, pretense, mixed motive analysis, and a myriad of other complexities. And that says nothing of the parties and litigants who never fail to keep the bench on its proverbial toes.

As many lawyers (and judges know), the backbone of a vibrant federal bench is a stable of American magistrates. Congress established the role of federal magistrates in 1968 with the Federal Magistrates Act of 1968. The position replaced the role of Commissioner of the Federal Court with the broader and more powerful office of the United States Magistrate. Justices of the Peace are empowered to rule on a wide range of issues, including:

  • To preside over criminal proceedings.
  • The power to conduct tort trials, if the defendant agrees.
  • To serve as special masters in civil actions.
  • At the request of district judges, preside over discovery and other pre-trial proceedings.

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