Roell v. Withrow, 538 U.S. 580, 19 (2003)

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598

ROELL v. WITHROW

Thomas, J., dissenting

the same manner as an appeal from any other judgment of a district court. The consent of the parties allows a magistrate judge designated to exercise civil jurisdiction under paragraph (1) of this subsection to direct the entry of a judgment of the district court in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." (Emphasis added.)

Under 636(c)(3), appellate jurisdiction over final judgments entered by a magistrate judge depends on whether the requirements of 636(c)(1), including consent, are satisfied. Absence of consent means absence of a "judgment," which, in turn, means absence of appellate jurisdiction. Thus, under 636, the necessary precondition for a court of appeals' jurisdiction over a magistrate judge's order is the parties' consent to proceed before the magistrate judge. Because valid consent is a jurisdictional prerequisite for appellate jurisdiction, and, hence, an integral part of the inquiry into the existence of such jurisdiction, 636(c)(3) permits a court of appeals to examine the validity of the consent to the magistrate judge's authority sua sponte.

The de facto officer doctrine is not to the contrary. That doctrine "prevent[s] litigants from abiding the outcome of a lawsuit and then overturning it if adverse upon a technicality of which they were previously aware." Glidden Co. v. Zdanok, 370 U. S. 530, 535 (1962) (plurality opinion). Examples of such "technicalities" are defects in the judge's appointment or designation. See, e. g., Ex parte Ward, 173 U. S. 452, 456 (1899) ( judge improperly appointed during a Senate recess); Wright v. United States, 158 U. S. 232, 238 (1895) (deputy marshal whose oath of office had not been properly administered); McDowell v. United States, 159 U. S. 596, 601- 602 (1895) ( judge whose designation to sit in a different district may have been improper under the statute); Ball v. United States, 140 U. S. 118, 128-129 (1891) ( judge sitting in place of a deceased judge where designation permitted only the substitution for a disabled judge). The doctrine is, how-

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