During this turbulent time in our country’s history, United States Magistrate Judges keep the wheels of justice running smoothly in federal court, even while we work remotely from home or in empty courtrooms with reduced staff due to the need to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among other duties, we continue to conduct civil consent cases, resolve discovery disputes, and conduct settlement negotiations. And daily, magistrate judges review and issue search warrants, advise defendants of their Constitutional rights, and conduct bail hearings and evidentiary hearings by video. I have been so impressed by the steadfastness and grace demonstrated by our members during this difficult year.
The purpose of the Federal Magistrate Judges Association is to promote the efficient administration of justice, to protect the integrity, dignity and independence of the federal judiciary and to educate the public about the important role that magistrate judges play in criminal and civil cases in the federal court system.
A top priority of the FMJA board is to continue our work to increase diversity on the bench and do all we can to insure racial justice in the courtroom. In August, we will inaugurate “Zoom for Justice,” a series of conversations amongst magistrate judges about issues concerning perceptions of justice, confrontation of implicit biases and possible steps toward meaningful change. In addition, many of our members participate in the Just the Beginning Foundation’s Judicial Intern program, which provides opportunities for diverse law students to acquire experience interning in chambers.
Another top priority of the board this year is to work to improve the security of judges. The recent, tragic attack upon Judge Esther Salas and her family makes it clear that more must be done to protect the private information and physical safety of judges and their families. Our Security Committee will be working to provide solutions.
And we will continue with the production of the Federal Courts Law Review , a nationally-respected law journal with cutting-edge articles written by judges, members of academia and law students.
If you are a guest visiting our site, we invite you to browse and learn more about us. If you are a member, please use this website to the fullest. It is one tool that allows active, retired and recalled magistrate judges from across the country to stay connected.
I wish you, your family and chamber’s staff good health and happiness in the coming year.
Hon. Deborah Smith
President, Federal Magistrate Judges Association