United States v. Garcia, — F.3d — (10th Circuit September 4, 2019)

Defendant moved to withdraw his guilty plea after it was accepted by a federal magistrate judge on the grounds that the Federal Magistrates Act of 1968 did not permit a magistrate judge to accept a felony guilty plea if the plea is considered a “dispositive matter” under Fed. R. Crim. P. 59.  On appeal from denial of his motion, the Tenth Circuit called Mr. Garcia’s arguments “persuasive” and noted that at least three other circuits have embraced similar interpretations of Rule 59’s limitations on magistrate judges as to felony guilty pleas.  Though “sympathetic” to such reasoning, the Tenth Circuit nevertheless held that it was bound by prior precedent which “squarely held that magistrate judges can accept guilty pleas.”