6500 Cherrywood Lane
Greenbelt, MD 20770
35 East Washington St.
Hagerstown, MD 21740
Toulson Federal Building
129 East Main St.
Salisbury, MD 21801
United States Magistrate Judges for the District of Maryland consider federal civil consent cases, and conduct misdemeanor trials and preliminary hearings. They issue search warrants, arrest warrants, and summonses; review bail; and set initial appearances. The U.S. Magistrate Judges oversee pretrial matters and procedures, such as motions, pretrial conferences, prisoner cases, Social Security cases, and evidentiary hearings.
U.S. Magistrate Judges trace their origins to the federal Judiciary Act of 1789 which authorized magistrates to set bail in federal criminal cases. In 1812, federal circuit courts were authorized to appoint such persons to take affidavits, set bail, and receive fees for those services. As their duties expanded, these court officials became known as commissioners by 1817. Commissioners could try petty offenses committed in certain national parks in 1894, and, in 1896, a system of U.S. Commissioners was established formally. Appointed to four-year terms by the U.S. District Courts, commissioners exercised the same powers and duties of their predecessors but were compensated according to a uniform fee schedule. After 1940, commissioners could try all petty offenses committed on federal property if so designated by the appointing U.S. District Court and with written consent of the defendant.
The Federal Magistrates Act of 1968 replaced the commissioner system with federal magistrates overseen by the Judicial Conference of the United States. The act required magistrates to be attorneys. Magistrates retained all the powers and duties of commissioners, could try and dispose of minor criminal offenses, and could be assigned additional duties to expedite the work of U.S. District Court judges. Since 1968, the pretrial, civil and criminal jurisdiction of federal magistrates has expanded. On December 1, 1990, federal magistrates were designated U.S. Magistrate Judges.
For Maryland, the U.S. Magistrate Judges are appointed to eight-year terms by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Part-time U.S. Magistrate Judges are appointed by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to four-year terms.
November 5, 2002
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