Court is Now in Session – In Yosemite

Yosemite is on the lookout for its 13th magistrate judge. The chambers sit right below Yosemite Falls.
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Yosemite is on the lookout for its 13th magistrate judge. The chambers sit right below Yosemite Falls.

Beneath Yosemite Falls and next to the hiking trails that criscross the iconic park rests an unexpected building: the park's courthouse, complete with holding cell.

The courthouse, officiated by a magistrate judge, handles all the misdemeanors that play out within the park's 750,000 acres (felonies go to Fresno). Those misdemeanors usually include multiple alcohol infractions, improper food storage, and camping violations, reports The New York Times.

Currently the courthouse is playing host to a revolving band of temporary judges as the park looks to hire its 13th full-time gavel basher. In June, Magistrate Judge William M. Wunderlich left the bench and the Eastern District's chief judge hopes to fill the seat by the end of the year; 30 people have applied.

Besides a $160,000 salary the park job boasts multiple perks which don't need to be spelled out for BACKPACKER readers. But it's not a retirement gig The Times article is quick to point out. Especially in the summer, when visitor after visitor enters the Yosemite gates, the courthouse becomes a busy place fighting crime and keeping the peace in the park.

But if you're looking for a reason to go law school...the magistrate judge gets to live in the park, no backcountry permit required.

--Katie Herrell

Source:

Spectacular Distractions Are the Perks of Judgeship, The New York Times