chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
June 20, 2023 Article

Judicial Division Committee Considering Two Resolutions Concerning “Court-Appointed Neutrals”

Merril Hirsh

The ABA Judicial Division Lawyers Conference Court-Appointed Neutrals Committee is inviting comment on two resolutions designed to implement the ABA’s January 2019 Guidelines on the Appointment and Use of Special Masters in Federal and State Civil Litigation.  The Guidelines urge that it should be an “accepted part of judicial administration” in complex cases and other cases that might warrant it for courts to consider using “special masters.”   One of the new resolutions would seek to implement the principles of the Guidelines by proposing a Model State Rule of Civil Procedure for Court-Appointed Neutrals

A second Resolution would, among other things, amend the Guidelines and the Resolution that adopted them to substitute the term “court-appointed neutral” for “master” and “special master.”  This Resolution would also seek to standardize the term “court-appointed neutral” to describe better the role and to capture many terms that state courts have used to refer to a disinterested professional appointed as an adjunct in a case to assist a court in its case management, adjudicative or post-resolution responsibilities. 

Last September, the Judicial Division Lawyers Conference Court-Appointed Neutrals Committee circulated an early draft of the Model Rule to obtain input from the Forum on Construction Law.  Construction lawyers have always been at the forefront of the creative use of alternative dispute resolution approaches to help resolve disputes efficiently, with less disruption to ongoing projects or relationships among repeat players.  Court-Appointed Neutrals are at the intersection of ADR and courts, and the Draft Model Rule seeks to make these concepts (familiar to many construction lawyers) part of the toolkit available for litigants generally. 

The Judicial Division is expected to vote on sponsorship shortly in order to meet the May 9, 2023 deadline for submitting Resolutions for consideration by the House of Delegates at the ABA Annual Meeting in August.   However, the Committee still welcomes any thoughts or concerns that anyone in the Forum may have about the draft resolutions or ideas on promoting the principles of the 2019 ABA Guidelines more generally.  Anyone with comments or questions can contact Merril Hirsh at [email protected].

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Merril Hirsh

HirshADR PLLC, Washington, DC