In this essay, Professor Pierce criticizes the decisions in six circuits that forbid a district judge from rejecting a finding of fact proposed by a magistrate without first conducting a new evidentiary hearing. Those decisions are inconsistent with the Magistrates Act of 1968, the 1951 decision of the Supreme Court that authorizes agencies to reject findings of fact made by Administrative Law Judges without conducting a new evidentiary hearing, the consistent findings of empirical studies that a fact-finder’s ability to observe the demeanor of witnesses does not improve the fact-finder’s ability to evaluate the credibility of witnesses, and Articles I and III of the Constitution.
GW Paper Series
GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-72; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-72
Richard Pierce, Jr., District Court Review of Findings of Fact Proposed by Magistrates: Myth or Reality, Geo. Wash. L. Rev. (forthcoming).