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How to write a letter to a magistrate

Updated February 21, 2019

A magistrate is a judge with a federal jurisdiction, or a smaller jurisdiction of a community or county. What powers the magistrate has depends on the district, but many try both civil and criminal matters. Writing to a magistrate is confusing because you may not be aware of what the title means or how to address the letter. If the magistrate is in charge of your case, you also might be nervous about saying the wrong thing or creating a negative impression of yourself. However, with some planning and research, you can write an intelligent, well-thought-out letter.

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  1. Type your address, and skip a space. Type the date and skip another space. Type "The Honorable (Full name), Magistrate Judge," according to Library Online. Then, type the name of the court and the court's address on separate lines.

  2. Create the salutation by typing "Dear Judge (Last name)" followed by a colon.

  3. Type the rest of the letter as you normally would. For instance, if you are explaining why you missed your court date and are requesting a continuance, begin by identifying yourself and giving the docket number; then apologise for inconveniencing the court and explain why you missed your hearing. Provide details about the situation and request a continuance. Finally, thank the judge for his time and provide contact information for you and your lawyer.

  4. Close the letter by typing "Respectfully," and skip three lines. Type your full name. Print the letter and sign above your typed name.

  5. Address the envelope to "The Honorable (Full name), Magistrate Judge," followed by the name of the court and the court's address.

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About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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