As mentioned in California Rules of Court 3.400 , complex cases “require exceptional judicial management to avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court or the litigants and to expedite the case, keep costs reasonable, and promote effective decision making by the court, the parties, and counsel.”
Special Masters can be indispensable in complex cases, overseeing matters of discovery, case management, and settlement. Depending on the Order of Reference, Special Masters may be empowered to coordinate discovery, convene mandatory settlement conferences, compel the attendance of counsel and the parties, and issue sanctions.
To begin, the Special Master prepares a pre-trial order that provides a “blueprint” and structure for keeping the case on track. Throughout the assignment, the Special Master periodically informs the presiding judge, providing reports, assessments, evaluations, recommendations, and findings.
As our panelist Randy Wallace observes, an effective Special Master defines a problem, develops a plan, remains pragmatic, and transforms chaos into order.