The Federal Magistrate Judges Association is a national association consisting of United States Magistrate Judges whose mission is to support the vital role of all Magistrate Judges as an integral part of our United States Judicial System: to promote appropriate utilization and understanding of the role magistrate judges play in the federal judiciary by advising and advancing policies that affect it members and the United States Courts as a whole; by actively participating in the review and modification of legislation, as well as substantive and procedural rules that affect the United States Courts and by promoting the independence of the federal judiciary.
The Association began in 1961 as the Organization of United States Commissioners. Its founding judges were David Goldstein of New Jersey, Samuel Meloy of Maryland, Frank Abbot of New York, George Hastings of Connecticut, Archie Meatyard, Jr., of Maryland, and Charles Ebel of Ohio.
Eight years later, the name of the organization changed to the National Council of Magistrates. The judges who were on the Board of Directors at that time included: Frank Baskin, President from 1971 to 1972; Bestor Witter, President from 1972 to 1973; and William Garrett, President from 1974 to 1975.
Four years later, the Association’s named changed to the National Counsel of Federal Magistrates. Ultimately, the Association’s name changed to the Federal Magistrate Judges Association in 1991. While the Association has had multiple names during its 50 year existence, its core mission has remained the same: (1) the efficient administrative of justice, to protect the integrity, dignity of the magistrate judge system(2) independence of the federal judiciary and (3) scholarly collaboration and influence in the federal judicial system.
Over the last 50 years, Magistrate Judges across the country have served in various capacities on governance committees in the District Courts of the United States, the Magistrate Advisory Committee of the Administrative Courts and various other leadership roles in the Judicial Conference. Magistrate Judges further play a integral role through its Rules Committee. The organization helps to shape procedural rules in both Civil and Criminal Cases. The association further has had a substantial scholarly impact on the legal system through its nationally recognized law review, Federal Courts Law Review.
Over the years the organization has grown from its original number of 25 to over 800 active and retired magistrate judges. This growth is illustrative of the important role that U.S. Magistrate Judges have had in its supportive role in the U.S. Courts. The FMJA continues working to educate the public of the importance of an independent and diverse federal judiciary, collaborating with other federal judge organizations, improved communications among its members.