Allen v. Meyer

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 06-20-2014
  • Case #: 11-16714
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge McKeown for the Court; Circuit Judge Thomas and District Judge Bennett
  • Full Text Opinion

A magistrate judge has no jurisdiction to enter a final judgment without the consent of the parties.

Kelvin Allen (“Allen”) filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint alleging violation of his rights under the Eighth Amendment by correctional officer at Corcoran State Prison. The magistrate judge dismissed the complaint and Allen subsequently amended it. The officers moved to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The magistrate judge granted the officers summary judgment; however the officers never rejected or consented to magistrate-judge jurisdiction. On appeal, the panel held that, under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), a magistrate judge is required to obtain the parties’ consent in order to render a judgment and, absent consent, the judgment is a legal nullity. Consequently, the magistrate “had no jurisdiction to enter a final judgment of behalf of the district court”. The panel then addressed remedies for Allen. It concluded that dismissing the appeal for lack of jurisdiction provides no remedy at all so the panel remanded the case to the district court with instructions to vacate the judgment. REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.

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