In November 2016, the American Bar Association’s Judicial Division Lawyers Conference created a committee (the “Committee”) to study how best to facilitate the use of Special Masters. The term “special master” applies to persons appointed by any court to serve any of a wide variety of case-management functions, regardless of whether statute, rules or practice have described these persons as “master,” “discovery master,” “settlement master,” “trial master,” “referee,” “monitor,” “technical advisor,” “auditor,” “administrator,” etc.
The Committee adopted a multi-pronged approach that involves gathering information about how Special Masters have been used in recent cases. As result of these activities, the Committee recently released its first Special Master Case Studies which prominently feature Cary Ichter’s role as Special Master in Delta Wing Project 56 LLC v. Ben Bowlby, et al., Superior Court of Jackson County, Georgia.
The appointing judge, Judge David Motes, explained that appointing a Special Master saved him untold hours of time spent on discovery disputes, motions hearings, and, eventually trial. According to Judge Motes, “Having a seasoned, well-respected Special master helped to prevent any overcomplication of the issues by the attorneys. The attorneys knew that the Special master had plenty of time to devote to an understanding of the issues and the litigation, and that I had no such time.”
Among other findings, the Committee noted Judge Motes thought “appointing Mr. Ichter as Special Master in this case was the ‘best thing that happened’—for the court, the parties in this case, and the parties in the other cases on the judge’s docket,” and, “[l]ooking back, … ‘the only thing I would do differently would be to appoint the Special Master earlier.’”
The Committee is also working with other organizations to develop educational programs and model criteria for selecting Special Masters, and has a formed a Working Group with representatives of the National Conference of Federal Trial Judges, the National Conference of State Trial Judges, and several other ABA Standing Committees and Sections to develop a proposed “Black Letter” on best practices for Special Masters for consideration by the American Bar Association House of Delegates. Mr. Ichter is the principal author of the Black Letter.
Mr. Ichter is the former President of The Academy of Court Appointed Masters, the only national organization in the country committed to educating the bench and bar on the appointment and use of special masters. Mr. Ichter also wrote the Georgia Uniform Superior Court Rule authorizing courts in the State of Georgia to appoint Special Masters and establishing the rules governing the conduct of Special Masters in connection with such referrals, and has published numerous articles on Special Masters.
If you would like further information, please contact Mr. Ichter at 404.869.7600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.