Roell v. Withrow, 538 U.S. 580, 11 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

III judge. But there is another risk, and insisting on a bright line would raise it: the risk of a full and complicated trial wasted at the option of an undeserving and possibly opportunistic litigant. This risk is right in front of us in this case. Withrow consented orally and in writing to the Magistrate Judge's authority following notice of his right to elect trial by an Article III district judge; he received the protection intended by the statute, and deserves no boon from the other side's failure to cross the bright line. In fact, there is even more to Withrow's unworthiness, since under the local rules of the District Court, it was Withrow's unmet responsibility as plaintiff to get the consent of all parties and file the completed consent form with the clerk. See Gen. Order No. 80-5, Art. III(B)(2) (SD Tex., June 16, 1980), p. 5, App. to Brief in Opposition 7a. In another case, of course, the shoe might be on the other foot; insisting on the bright line would allow parties in Roell's and Garibay's position to sit back without a word about their failure to file the form, with a right to vacate any judgment that turned out not to their liking.

The bright line is not worth the downside. We think the better rule is to accept implied consent where, as here, the litigant or counsel was made aware of the need for consent and the right to refuse it, and still voluntarily appeared to try the case before the Magistrate Judge. Inferring consent in these circumstances thus checks the risk of gamesmanship by depriving parties of the luxury of waiting for the outcome before denying the magistrate judge's authority. Judicial efficiency is served; the Article III right is substantially honored. See Schor, supra, at 849-850 (finding that the litigant "effective[ly] waive[d]" his right to an Article III court by deciding "to seek relief before the [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] rather than in the federal courts"); United States v. Raddatz, 447 U. S. 667, 676, n. 3 (1980) (es-chewing a construction of the Act that would tend to "frus-

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