Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Magistrate Judge, Southern District of Florida, Miami, FL
By Eric Gonzalez
I am working as an intern for Federal Magistrate Judge Andrea M. Simonton of the Southern District of Florida. I work in the Atkins federal courthouse in downtown Miami from Monday through Friday, from 9:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M.
A federal magistrate judge handles matters that United States District Judges refer to them. While these matters are largely pretrial motions, such as motions to compel discovery and motions to suppress evidence, the parties can consent to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge. The parties’ consent gives the magistrate judge the full powers of a district court judge with respect to their case.
My experience at the courthouse has been anything but boring. I have undertaken a variety of activities. I attended a trial, pretrial detention hearings, and suppression hearings; have toured a federal detention center; and, have attended oral arguments for the eleventh circuit court of appeals.
The projects that I participate in are also unique. I have worked on a federal habeas claim, a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act, have written pretrial detention orders, and am currently researching arbitration agreements as they relate to motions for attorneys fees.
These varied projects represent only some of the things that I learned this summer. Working at the courthouse has shown me a lot of the administrative challenges that the judicial system faces. As a court of first review the Southern District of Florida handles several pre-trial motions, all while conducting trials, holding hearings, and reviewing warrants.
In short, I am having an interesting experience learning about nuanced legal matters as well as broad administrative concepts.