"Isn’t that Special": The Limited Powers of Special Masters
By Mark T. Drooks & Thomas R. Freeman
Mark T. Drooks is a partner at Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C. in Los Angeles.
Thomas R. Freeman is a partner at Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C. in Los Angeles.
The Church Lady’s words may be particularly apt when it comes to the appointment of special masters in California’s trial courts. Used appropriately, special masters can be extremely useful to the parties and the court. They can bring expertise to a complex case or issue, parse a large or technical record for the benefit of the trial court, and make recommendations to the court on matters presented by the parties. But the expertise and resources special masters bring to that job â in conjunction with their typically broad investigatory mandates under a trial court’s order of appointment â may lead some to inadvertently overstep the bounds of their appropriate authority as judicial agents.