295 F.Supp.2d 133 (2004) | Cited 2 times | D. Maine | January 7, 2004


On November 5, 2003, the Defendant, David Cadieux moved to suppresscertain evidence in this matter. On November 25, 2003, pursuant to28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), this Court referred the Motion to Suppressto United States Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk to conduct hearingsand submit proposed findings of fact and recommendations fordisposition. On December 18, 2003, the Defendant moved to withdraw thedesignation of the Magistrate Judge. The Defendant argues that because ofthe centrality of the credibility issues in the Motion to Suppress, a denovo appeal of Magistrate Judge Kravchuk's decision is likely, whatevershe recommends. The Defendant contends that the de novo appeal willpresent issues of witness credibility and this Court will be required tohold a new evidentiary hearing to rule adequately on an objection to theMagistrate Judge's recommendation. Therefore, the Defendant urges thisCourt to hear and determine the Motion to Suppress to avoid a laterrehearing on the same issue. For the reasons stated below, theDefendant's Motion for a Hearing before this Court is DENIED.Page 2

II. Discussion

A district judge may designate a magistrate judge to conduct hearingsand submit proposed findings of fact and recommendations on motions tosuppress evidence. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The district judge mustmake a "de novo determination of those portions of the report . . . towhich an objection is made." Id. In this case, the Defendant does notchallenge this Court's authority to refer the Motion to Suppress toMagistrate Judge Kravchuk. Instead, he claims "two hearings identical inprocedure would be an inefficient use of judicial resources" and, becausethe Motion to Suppress is likely to be dispositive, his "liberty interestis best protected by avoiding an apparently unnecessary hearing. . . ."(See Def.'s Mot. Hearing Before Dist. Ct. at 2 (Docket # 20)).

The Defendant is incorrect in asserting "a complete repeat of theinitial suppression hearing . . . is very likely." (See Def.'s Mot.Hearing Before Dist. Ct. at 2 (Docket # 20)). In United States v.Raddatz. the Supreme Court made it clear that under § 636(b)(1), adistrict court is not required to rehear testimony on which a magistratejudge bases her findings and recommendations in order to make anindependent evaluation of credibility: "the statute calls for a de novodetermination, not a de novo hearing." 447 U.S. 667, 674 (1980). TheCourt, quoting a House Judiciary Committee Report, also noted thelegislative history of § 636(b)(1) explicitly states what Congressintended by the term "determination":

The use of the words `de novo determination' is not intended to require the judge to actually conduct a new hearing on contested issues. Normally, the judge, on application, will consider the record which has been developed before the magistrate and make his own determination on the basis of that record, without being bound to adopt the findings and conclusions of the magistrate. In some specific instances, however, it may be necessary for the judge to modify or reject the findings of the magistrate, to take additional evidence, recall witnesses, or recommit the matter to the magistrate for further proceedings.Page 3

447 U.S. at 675 (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 94-1609, p. 2 (1976) (emphasis inopinion)). To construe § 636(b)(1) to require the district court toconduct a second evidentiary hearing whenever either party objects to themagistrate judge's credibility finding would frustrate the plainobjective of Congress to alleviate the increasing congestion in districtcourts.1 Id. at 676 n.3.

In this Court's view, it is not in the interests of judicial efficiencyto grant the Defendant's Motion for a Hearing before the District CourtAs Raddatz made clear, although this Court retains the statutorydiscretion to call and hear testimony in an adversary proceeding, it alsoretains the right to review an objection to the Magistrate Judge'srecommendation without holding a new evidentiary hearing. FollowingMagistrate Judge Kravchuk's recommendation, the parties may conclude thather ruling is entirely correct, partially correct, or entirelyincorrect. In any event, judicial efficiency is best served when themagistrate judge performs the role Congress contemplated. Justice Stevensspoke for this Court in Peretz v. United States, when he wrote "Congressintended magistrate judges to play an integral and important role in thefederal judicial system," a role that is "nothing less thanindispensable." 501 U.S. 923, 927 (1991).Page 4

III. Conclusion

Accordingly, the Defendant's Motion for a Hearing before the DistrictCourt is DENIED.


1. To the extent the Defendant's reference to his "liberty interest"refers to a due process claim, Raddatz explained that a defendant's dueprocess rights are adequately protected by § 636(b)(1): While the district court judge alone acts as the ultimate decision maker, the statute grants the judge the broad discretion to accept, reject, or modify the magistrate's proposed findings. That broad discretion includes hearing the witnesses live to resolve conflicting credibility claims. . . . [W]e conclude that the statutory scheme includes sufficient procedures to alert the district court whether to exercise its discretion to conduct a hearing and view the witnesses itself.447 U.S. at 681; Witte v. Justices of New Hampshire Sup. Ct., 831 F.2d 362,364 (1st Cir. 1987) (citing Raddatz for same proposition).

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