Rule 59. Matters Before a Magistrate Judge

(a) Nondispositive Matters. A district judge may refer to a magistrate judge for determination any matter that does not dispose of a charge or defense. The magistrate judge must promptly conduct the required proceedings and, when appropriate, enter on the record an oral or written order stating the determination. A party may serve and file objections to the order within 14 days after being served with a copy of a written order or after the oral order is stated on the record, or at some other time the court sets. The district judge must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is contrary to law or clearly erroneous. Failure to object in accordance with this rule waives a party's right to review.

(b) Dispositive Matters.

(1) Referral to Magistrate Judge. A district judge may refer to a magistrate judge for recommendation a defendant's motion to dismiss or quash an indictment or information, a motion to suppress evidence, or any matter that may dispose of a charge or defense. The magistrate judge must promptly conduct the required proceedings. A record must be made of any evidentiary proceeding and of any other proceeding if the magistrate judge considers it necessary. The magistrate judge must enter on the record a recommendation for disposing of the matter, including any proposed findings of fact. The clerk must immediately serve copies on all parties.

(2) Objections to Findings and Recommendations. Within 14 days after being served with a copy of the recommended disposition, or at some other time the court sets, a party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations. Unless the district judge directs otherwise, the objecting party must promptly arrange for transcribing the record, or whatever portions of it the parties agree to or the magistrate judge considers sufficient. Failure to object in accordance with this rule waives a party's right to review.

(3) De Novo Review of Recommendations. The district judge must consider de novo any objection to the magistrate judge's recommendation. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, receive further evidence, or resubmit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.

Notes

(Added Apr. 25, 2005, eff. Dec. 1, 2005; amended Mar. 26, 2009, eff. Dec. 1, 2009.)

Committee Notes on Rules—2002

Rule 59, which dealt with the effective date of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, is no longer necessary and has been deleted.

Committee Notes on Rules—2005

Rule 59 is a new rule that creates a procedure for a district judge to review nondispositive and dispositive decisions by magistrate judges. The rule is derived in part from Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72.

The Committee's consideration of a new rule on the subject of review of a magistrate judge's decisions resulted from United States v. Abonce-Barrera, 257 F.3d 959 (9th Cir. 2001). In that case the Ninth Circuit held that the Criminal Rules do not require appeals from nondispositive decisions by magistrate judges to district judges as a requirement for review by a court of appeals. The court suggested that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72 could serve as a suitable model for a criminal rule.

Rule 59(a) sets out procedures to be used in reviewing nondispositive matters, that is, those matters that do not dispose of the case. The rule requires that if the district judge has referred a matter to a magistrate judge, the magistrate judge must issue an oral or written order on the record. To preserve the issue for further review, a party must object to that order within 10 days after being served with a copy of the order or after the oral order is stated on the record or at some other time set by the court. If an objection is made, the district court is required to consider the objection. If the court determines that the magistrate judge's order, or a portion of the order, is contrary to law or is clearly erroneous, the court must set aside the order, or the affected part of the order. See also 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(A).

Rule 59(b) provides for assignment and review of recommendations made by magistrate judges on dispositive matters, including motions to suppress or quash an indictment or information. The rule directs the magistrate judge to consider the matter promptly, hold any necessary evidentiary hearings, and enter his or her recommendation on the record. After being served with a copy of the magistrate judge's recommendation, under Rule 59(b)(2), the parties have a period of 10 days to file any objections. If any objections are filed, the district court must consider the matter de novo and accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, or return the matter to the magistrate judge for further consideration.

Both Rule 59(a) and (b) contain a provision that explicitly states that failure to file an objection in accordance with the rule amounts to a waiver of the issue. This waiver provision is intended to establish the requirements for objecting in a district court in order to preserve appellate review of magistrate judges’ decisions. In Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (1985), the Supreme Court approved the adoption of waiver rules on matters for which a magistrate judge had made a decision or recommendation. The Committee believes that the waiver provisions will enhance the ability of a district court to review a magistrate judge's decision or recommendation by requiring a party to promptly file an objection to that part of the decision or recommendation at issue. Further, the Supreme Court has held that a de novo review of a magistrate judge's decision or recommendation is required to satisfy Article III concerns only where there is an objection. Peretz v. United States, 501 U.S. 293 (1991).

Despite the waiver provisions, the district judge retains the authority to review any magistrate judge's decision or recommendation whether or not objections are timely filed. This discretionary review is in accord with the Supreme Court's decision in Thomas v. Arn, supra, at 154. See also Matthews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 –271 (1976).

Although the rule distinguishes between “dispositive” and “nondispositive” matters, it does not attempt to define or otherwise catalog motions that may fall within either category. Instead, that task is left to the case law.

Changes Made After Publication and Comment. The Committee adopted almost all of the style suggestions by the Style Subcommittee, and several of the suggestions by the Federal Magistrate Judges’ Association. In particular the Committee adopted a variation of the language suggested by the Association concerning matters disposing of a “charge or defense.” The committee also addressed the issue in Rule 59(a) of clarifying the starting point for the 10 days in which to file objections by changing the word “made” in line 9 to read “stated.” In Rule 59(b)(1) the Committee rearranged the order of the sample motions that would be considered “dispositive.” Finally, the Committee included a paragraph at the end of the Committee Note, addressing the decision not to further specify in the rule, or the Note, what matters might be dispositive or nondispositive.

Committee Notes on Rules—2009 Amendment

The times set in the former rule at 10 days have been revised to 14 days. See the Committee Note to Rule 45(a).

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