At the edge of Fort Monmouth Army base in New Jersey sits a room the Newark Star-Ledger says is in “the twilight zone of the country’s federal judicial system.” It is an extension of the U.S. District Court of New Jersey that hands out out punishment for minor crimes committed on federal land, including military bases, parks, and post offices. Magistrate Anthony Mautone, one of the state’s two part-time federal magistrates, oversees the bulk of the caseload. The court has become much busier as a result of increased vigilance on federal property since the terrorist attacks in 2001. Mautone is one of 48 part-time federal magistrates.
Most people show up without attorneys, but federal public defenders are available to those who can’t afford lawyers. Government prosecutors are members of the Judge Advocate General’s corps. Justice is handled in rapid-fire succession. Few cases take longer than 10 minutes. There is no lunch break. And punishment is often served with attitude. When Frederick Dilione didn’t show up, Mautone ordered federal marshals to hunt him down. “I don’t care where he is, we’re going to catch him,” Mautone growled.