Is the Section 1983 Civil Rights Statute Overworked? Expanded Use of Magistrates–An Alternative to Exhaustion

Part I of this Note discusses the history and purpose of section 1983 and identifies the danger unmanaged growth of 1983 suits poses to civil rights. Part II examines several judicial responses to the 1983 caseload problem and concludes that congressional action is more appropriate. Parts III and IV explore two areas of possible legislative action. Part III questions the efficacy of a legislatively imposed requirement that the claimant exhaust state administrative remedies as a prerequisite to a 1983 suit in federal court. Part IV proposes an alternative congressional response to the 1983 caseload problem: a carefully tailored use of the existing magistracy apparatus. The Note concludes that magistrates can handle many of the issues in 1983 suits that strain judicial resources, and no other measure, short of a substantial increase in the number of federal judges, can effectively manage the 1983 caseload problem, while at the same time preserving section 1983’s central purpose of providing a federal forum to civil rights litigants.