Roell v. Withrow, 538 U.S. 580, 12 (2003)

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Cite as: 538 U. S. 580 (2003)

Thomas, J., dissenting

trate the plain objective of Congress to alleviate the increasing congestion of litigation in the district courts").7

III

Roell's and Garibay's general appearances before the Magistrate Judge, after they had been told of their right to be tried by a district judge, supply the consent necessary for the Magistrate Judge's "civil jurisdiction" under 636(c)(1).8 We reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

Justice Thomas, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice Scalia, and Justice Kennedy join, dissenting.

The provision that this Court must interpret reads: "Upon the consent of the parties, a . . . magistrate judge . . . may

7 We doubt that this interpretation runs a serious risk of "spawn[ing] a second litigation of significant dimension." Buckhannon Board & Care Home, Inc. v. West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources, 532 U. S. 598, 609 (2001) (internal quotation marks omitted). In the first place, implied consent will be the exception, not the rule, since, as we discuss above, district courts remain bound by the procedural requirements of 636(c)(2) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73(b). See supra, at 586, 587-588, n. 5. The dissent surmises, post, at 596, that our position raises "ambiguities" as to whether an inference of consent will be supported in a particular case, but we think this concern is greatly exaggerated: as long as parties are notified of the availability of a district judge as required by 636(c)(2) and Rule 73(b), a litigant's general appearance before the magistrate judge will usually indicate the necessary consent. In all events, whatever risk of "second[ary] litigation" may exist under an implied consent rule pales in comparison to the inefficiency and unfairness of requiring relitigation of the entire case in circumstances like these.

8 Because we conclude that Roell and Garibay impliedly consented to the Magistrate Judge's authority, we need not address whether express postjudgment consent would be sufficient in a case where there was no prior consent, either express or implied. We also have no opportunity to decide whether the Court of Appeals was correct that lack of consent is a "jurisdictional defect" that can be raised for the first time on appeal.

591

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