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 riles. 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." The latest edition of the Benchbook dates from January 2020 and uses these historic terms. We intend to update the termination when the Benchbook is next revised.
Appointed neutrals can provide courts, parties, and lawyers with essential services without tapping into court resources. Appointed neutrals can act as mediators and settle civil and criminal cases away from the courthouse; they can monitor discovery and resolve time-consuming disputes; they can help with the growing burden on courts caused by electronically stored information (ESI) discovery problems; they can be assigned trial duties; they can testify as expert witnesses, especially in cases involving technical and specialized issues; they can help coordinate multi-party, multi-jurisdictional, and multi-district litigation (MDL) cases; they can administer settlement claims; and they can monitor compliance with a court order or settlement agreement.
Appointed neutrals can markedly reduce the burden on a judge, the judge’s staff, and even the court’s administrative staff. Parties and lawyers recognize that in some cases the appointment of a master can save them substantial fees and costs, and can lead to a much quicker resolution of their disputes. Judges who use professional and experienced neutrals know how valuable they can be to case handling and resolution.