Appointment of federal magistrates is governed by 28 U.S.C. 631, which provides for "merit selection panels" by "district residents".
"District residents" are turned by many courts into practitioners practicing in that court, even though attorneys admitted to practice in a particular district do not have to reside in that district, and thus, their "service" on the "merits panel" may not be appropriate.
Yet, in the U.S. District Court, merit selection panels, instead of being composed of "district residents", which is a strict requirement of 28 U.S.C. 631, are composed of "attorneys and other members of the community",
which means, some or all of members of such "merit selection panels" may not be "district residents", and selection and the ultimate appointment of magistrates by such "district residents" may not be legitimate.
Moreover, when attorneys who are practicing before the court select magistrates presiding over their cases, that raises unique conflict of interest issues.
When an attorney gave the magistrate a gift of $1,480,096 (salary of $182,500 over an 8-year term), and that's without benefits and pension, a magistrate may feel indebted to rule that attorney's (and his client's and his firm's) way, and MANY issues in federal litigation are decided by magistrates, whether you agree to that or not. I never agree, as part of the General Order in civil rights cases at the beginning of a civil rights case, for a magistrate to decided issues in my litigation, and magistrates still handle discovery issues anyway, no matter what I say and no matter what the law says.
Here is the official judicial biography of magistrate David Peebles:
It shows that, before he was "selected" by a "merit panel" to his position of a judge on May 22, 2000, he worked:
- as an Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney;
- a partner in Hancock & Eastabrook, LLP where he served as "chair of the Labor ad Intellectual Property Law", and
- as a law clerk to a NDNY judge
- they selected/appointed Judge Peebles to his lucrative position which now transformed into a Chief Magistrate judge of the Northern District of New York;
- they likely wine and dine the judge through the American Inns of Court monthly receptions;
- they participate in "Local Rules" committees and continue to reinstate Judge Peebles after his 8-year term expired in 2008, and may be influential in his reinstatement in 2016.
Another member of the "merit selection panel" was attorney Daniel Stewart of Queensbury, NY.
Apparently, his "merit selection" was so successful that he himself was "selected" in the following year as a magistrate for the same court - a perfect reward of nearly $1.5 million over 8 years in salary alone (out of taxpayers' pockets, of course) for the "right" selection decision.
Stewart claims he "did not expect" that he will win and claimed he won in a "competitive process" where he was "chosen" by a "merit panel" out of 90 applicants.
Stewart is a "godson" of "venerable Dick Bartlett" and a son of Bartlett's law partner, where "venerable Dick Bartlett" is actually a powerful Supreme Court justice Richard Bartlett who died in May of 2015.
Too many coincidences for a "merits" win.
Looks like Stewart got as an insider ON that "merit selection panel" and got something out of "serving" on that panel.
Stewart inherits the magistrateship from Magistrate Treece who, thankfully, will not seek a second term as a magistrate - I will never forget his decision that failure to give pain medication for a week to a prisoner with a bone fracture was NOT a constitutional violation.
The NDNY court never discloses their conflicts of interest in the cases I or my husband litigated in front of that court, so I made it a part of my public service to the people and my duty of an officer of the court to make these conflicts of interests known to the public, right after I found about them.
NDNY-FCBA, Inc., a corporation, announces, as a benefit for its members, the following:
Of course, the benefit in itself is not an opportunity to "serve", but an opportunity to be close to the judicial ear, to be able to communicate with the judge or the judge's personnel, through those "committees" and to influence the court through behind-the-scenes ex parte communications, and through "recommendations to the Board of Judges regarding court policies and procedures".
I just think that, same as the U.S. Attorney General is investigating Connecticut State judiciary's affiliation with Association of Family and Conciliation Courts through a corruption probe, a similar probe should be launched as to activities of NDNY-FCBA,
a "resource" where judicial personnel "serves" along with litigants, witnesses in litigation and attorneys appearing before the court on various "committees" that make the court not a public entity, but a tool of private interests.