Appointing Neutrals Handbook

The ACAN Benchbook has for years collected and organized invaluable information for judges and lawyers regarding the best use of court-appointed neutrals. In 2022, ACAN changed its name from what had been the "Academy of Court-Appointed Masters" because "Court-Appointed Neutral" better served and better described this incredibly diverse profession and ACAN is also working to try to change the name used in rules. However, neutrals appointed in accordance with Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and in many states are still referred to as "masters."

Our civil justice system needs the services that neutrals can provide the courts, parties, and the public. This benchbook explains how court-appointed neutrals can be used to fulfill our mission to provide a just, speedy, and inexpensive determination for all disputes. We encourage you to tell the judges in your area about its availability and usefulness.

The ACAN Benchbook is available free of charge. You can download your own copy, 3-hole punch it, and place it in a binder or view and download sections as described below.

ACAN Benchbook 2023 Edition

Section 1 - Role of Neutrals. Summary of the various roles judicial adjuncts can serve.

Section 2 - Establishing a Roster of Neutrals. Addresses the benefits of, and suggestions ways for, establishing a roster of court-appointed neutrals.

Section 3 - Selecting a Neutral for a Particular Case. Stresses the need for parties to use the Ray Corollary Initiative to engage in a broader search for neutrals to help ensure both the diversity and quality of neutrals being considered.

Section 4 - Appointment Orders and Samples. Explains the rules that govern appointment orders and provides a detailed checklist of items to include in an appointment order.

Section 5 - Ethical Issues and Practical Concerns. Explains the sources of authority for ethics rules that govern judicial adjuncts, gives an overview of the rules, and provides a checklist for judges to review with their adjuncts early in the appointment.

Section 6 - An Article on ABA Guidelines

Section 7 - Federal and State Neutral Rules and Authorities

Section 8 - Articles, Books, Websites, and Literature about Neutrals

Appendices - Using Court Appointed Neutrals