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A Courtroom With a View

Unlike federal district court judges, federal magistrates don't have lifetime tenure. But one lucky federal magistrate gets an even better perk -- a courtroom with a view. The New York Times reports on what's perhaps one of the greatest job openings in the legal profession these days: a federal magistrate position at a tiny federal courthouse in Yosemite National Park, with an annual salary of $160,000. The court handles misdemeanors originating in the park, such as biking while intoxicated or without headlamps, or minor drug and gun charges and an array of other lesser offenses. Felony cases are transferred to federal court in Fresno, Calif.

For those who represent clients at the courthouse, life is not nearly as idyllic. Since only the judge and essential personnel can live within the park, according to the NYT, those who work at the courthouse must endure grueling commutes, particularly in the summer when they compete with long lines of tourists for admission to the park. In winter, storms, blizzards and mudslides cause traffic delays.

The courthouse draws some unusual visitors, though. In addition to backpackers who pass the courthouse, coyotes, bobcats and even bears show up on occasion. And it might just be the only spot in the 750,000-acre park where visitors can catch a glimpse of a shark.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 11, 2009 at 03:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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