While justices of the peace were generally elected officials,
the only method of selection of a magistrate is by appointment.
Chief circuit court judges are responsible for appointing
magistrates who serve for four year terms and may be reappointed.
Any persons who are United States citizens and residents
of the judicial district for which they are seeking appointment
are eligible to become magistrates unless precluded from
appointment because of a statutory conflict of interest
such as having a spouse who is a law enforcement officer.
The number of magistrates in each district is authorized
by the Committee on District Courts and must be sufficient
for the effective administration of justice.
The chief circuit court judge has full supervisory authority
over magistrates but may delegate this authority to the chief
general district court judge. Each district has a chief magistrate
who exercises direct daily supervision over the magistrates
within the district.
The large urban areas generally utilize fulltime magistrates
who work on a shift basis to maintain an open office twenty-four
hours a day. In contrast, the majority of rural magistrates
work on an availability basis and are contacted as needed
by citizens or law enforcement officers. In some areas,
magistrates work a fixed schedule during the day and are "on call" during
Magistrates have no power to take any action unless authority
has been expressly conferred by statute. Magistrates have
the following powers:
- To issue arrest warrants.
- To issue search warrants.
- To admit to bail or commit to jail.
- To issue warrants and subpoenas.
- To issue civil warrants.
- To administer oaths and take acknowledgements.
- To act as a conservator of the peace.
- To accept prepayment for traffic and
certain minor misdemeanor offenses.
- To issue emergency custody orders.
- To issue temporary mental detention
- To issue medical emergency temporary
- To issue emergency protective orders.
- To issue out of service orders.
As a general rule, magistrates may exercise
their authority only within the borders of their judicial