What are the duties of a court magistrate?

Updated March 23, 2017

Court magistrates are judges, but their responsibilities are not the same as regular judges. State magistrates, also called justices of the peace, handle minor court cases and can also perform marriages. Federal magistrates help with some of the responsibilities of the federal courts.

State Duties

State magistrates are also called justices of the peace. Depending on the county where they are located, they may be appointed or elected. They can conduct marriage ceremonies, preside over smaller court cases and help with administrative work. Check with your local county for specific duties.

Federal Duties

Federal magistrates take some of the workload from the federal courts and are appointed by federal district court judges. They mostly preside over preliminary hearings and can also consider petitions, but they do not make the final decisions in court cases.

Varying Duties

There are some duties that federal magistrates can preside over, but they are not necessarily required to. They can supervise calendars, issue subpoenas and administer oaths to new citizens. They can also approve surety bonds and any other orders.

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About the Author

Melanie Fleury has been writing professionally since 1995. She has written for various educational websites such as and is the educational consultant at the Knowledge Tree Center for Education. She enjoys creating curriculum for children with various learning styles. Fleury holds a master's degree in education specializing in early childhood from Ashwood University.