The Federal Judiciary has been increasing its efficiency, but clearly more steps are needed

Sidestepping the focus of the above article.

A new United States Courthouse was opened in Newport News 12 years ago. In that time, it has never had a United States District Judge permanently in residence and has never even had a permanent United States Magistrate Judges in residence. It does get visiting Judges from time to time. Most of the courts business is conducted in Norfolk.

This United States Courthouse runs the United States $165,000 a MONTH to lease. For a courthouse that very often is vacant other than for administrative business.

Trump and Virginia’s United States Senators can help here. There is currently a vacancy in the Eastern District of Virginia, with the previous incumbent stationed at Norfolk.

The new nominee should be from Newport News (or the immediate surrounding area of the James River Peninsula), and should commit to maintaining chambers and conducting business primarily at the Newport News Courthouse. And in hiring new Magistrate Judges, the court should hiring one who will commit to establishing his chambers in Newport News.

If the United States is going to pay $1,980,000 a year for a courthouse, we should at least use it for substantial court business.

Here is a substantial inefficiency that needs to be dealt with. Either station a Judge permanently at that courthouse or consider closing it.

Sounds like a hell of a waste of money on a part time courthouse that would have to require full time staffing at a much greater total expense.

Unfortunately this is not a unique situation. The courthouse in Williamsport, Pennsylvania was occupied by on a single United States Magistrate Judge until United States District Judge Matthew Brann was appointed and set up his chambers there instead of in Wilkes-Barre, where the previous incumbent was chambered.

Congress has at least been dealing with the situation, albeit slowly. They just streamlined the Eastern District of Arkansas. And some individual courts have been taking action of their own by shedding unnecessary facilities.

Do the Magistrate’s deal only with GJ’s and indictments?

Depends on each individual District Court.

Magistrates handle misdemeanor cases and initial proceedings in felony cases.

With the consent of both parties they can handle any civil case in lieu of a District Judge, though they cannot preside over a jury trial.

They can also, with the consent of both parties, preside over intellectual property proceedings and other matters.

And often, they will draft settlements in civil cases, with a District Judge having the final say on approving the settlement.

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