When to Use a Discovery Special Master
July 14, 2023
By Daniel Garrie and Judge Gail Andler
As technology becomes more integrated into all aspects of society, litigants and courts find themselves spending more time managing and analyzing electronic data than ever before. This particularly affects the discovery phase of litigation, which has become increasingly more complex as parties are often required to preserve, identify, collect, review, and produce large volumes of data. This opens the door to a world of disputes and technical challenges that the parties and the court may not be ideally situated to handle. Discovery Special Masters can be useful tools for managing discovery and resolving disputes in such technical or complex cases.
Special Masters, otherwise known as Court Appointed Neutrals, are independent third parties nominated by counsel or appointed through a court, arbitrator, or other decision-making body with a mandate to carry out some action on its behalf. Special Masters serve as “quasi-judges” who have specifically defined duties that relieve the court of some of its functions beyond its core responsibilities. Special Masters can be especially helpful in the context of discovery, as adjudicating or otherwise resolving highly technical discovery can strain the resources of already overly burdened courts.
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