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Authority and Duties of Magistrate Judges

Magistrate judges may be authorized to handle virtually any civil or criminal matter before the court other than presiding at felony trials. Generally speaking, they may handle nondispositive matters in civil and criminal cases by their own order, and dispositive matters by their own order with party consent and district judge approval, or otherwise by memorandum and recommendation to the presiding district judge. In civil cases in this district, magistrate judges routinely handle a full range of pretrial matters, including discovery motions, general pretrial case management, scheduling orders, settlement conferences, dismissal and summary judgment motions, and final pretrial conferences. They handle all proceedings in consent civil actions (including trial and entry of judgment), consent Social Security appeals, and any other consent civil cases, all with the right of appeal to the Fourth Circuit. In felony cases in this district, magistrate judges also routinely handle a broad range of pretrial matters, including review of criminal complaints, issuance of search warrants, grand jury selection, initial appearances, detention hearings, arraignments, scheduling orders, and suppression motion hearings, and such post-trial matters as hearings on habeas corpus motions and international prisoner transfers. In addition, they generally handle all proceedings in misdemeanor cases before them, including trial and sentencing. Magistrate judges participate in court management by, among other means, serving on court committees, and preside at naturalization and other court-related ceremonies. For more information about the magistrate judge position, see 28 U.S.C. ยง 636; Fed. R. Civ. P. 72, 73; Local Civ. Rules 72.1 to 72.4, E.D.N.C.; The Selection, Appointment, and Reappointment of United States Magistrate Judges (Admin. Office of U.S. Cts.); Federal Judicial Center, "Magistrate Judgeships."

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