A U.S. magistrate judge is a judicial officer of the district court and is appointed by majority vote of the active district judges of the court. A U.S. magistrate judge is typically selected based upon the recommendations of a merit selection panel composed of local attorneys and citizen representatives. A U.S. magistrate judge exercises jurisdiction over matters assigned by statute as well as those delegated by the district judges. A full-time magistrate judge serves a term of eight years. Duties assigned to magistrate judges by district court judges may vary considerably from court to court. The office is authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 631.
The current magistrate judge system was begun by Congress in 1968 expanding on the 175 year old United States commissioner system. In 2002, in addition to the 486 full-time magistrate judge positions authorized, there were 51 part-time judges and 3 combination clerk of court/magistrate judges who served four year terms.
Magistrate judges perform a wide range of duties in civil and criminal cases. In civil cases, they will hear pre-trial motions, conduct settlement and pre-trial conferences, and may, on assignment, handle dispostive motions and, with the consent of the parties, may conduct a trial. In criminal cases, they will handle most pre-trial matters, including the initial appearance of a defendant before a judge, arraignment on charges, including taking a plea of guilty or not guilty, and determining whether the defendant should be detained or released pending trial. Magistrate judges handle all petty offense cases and most misdemeanor cases. Magistrate judges also handle appeals from social security decisions and most petitions by prisoners for review of their convictions, and conditions of confinement.
Below are the Magistrate Judges from the Eastern District of Louisiana, listed in order of their appointment dates.
|Magistrate Judge||Appointment Date||Exit Date|
|1||Harry Lee||January 21, 1971||July 31, 1975|
|2||Ingard O. Johannesen||January 25, 1971||June 30, 1984|
|3||Morey L. Sear||May 11, 1971||May 12, 1976|
|4||James D. Carriere||September 5, 1975||September 14, 1980|
|5||Kenneth C. Hughes||August 5, 1976||March 15, 1983|
|6||Veronica D. Wicker||August 10, 1977||September 28, 1979|
|7||Marcel Livaudais, Jr.||1977||1984|
|8||Eileen Gleason Shaver||February 13, 1981||August 1, 1983|
|9||Michaelle Pitard Wynne||January 4, 1982||April 22, 1994|
|10||Ronald A. Fonseca||August 1, 1983||May 20, 1998|
|11||Jacob J. Meyer||August 22, 1983||October 1, 1989|
|12||Ivan L.R. Lemelle||October 3, 1984||April 12, 1998|
|13||Alma L. Chasez||September 24, 1984||February 28, 2014|
|14||Louis Moore, Jr.||May 20, 1985||June 13, 2012|
|15||Lance M. Africk||April 11, 1990||April 17, 2002|
|16||Joseph C. Wilkinson, Jr.||March 27, 1995|
|17||Sally Shushan||February 1, 1999||August 31, 2016|
|18||Karen Wells Roby||February 22, 1999|
|19||Daniel E. Knowles, III||January 6, 2003||January 5, 2019|
|20||Michael B. North||March 1, 2014|
|21||Janis van Meerveld||September 1, 2016|
|22||Dana M. Douglas||January 6, 2019|