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Bypassing The Clogged Courts Through Judicial Reference

A backlogged court system has increased the popularity of an alternative known as judicial reference. California Code provides for an appointed referee (special master) to hear and decide issues that would otherwise have to wait on the court docket.

Jason Turner is a veteran trial lawyer who also serves as a neutral. He has presided as judicial reference referee in complex and multiparty matters, from construction disputes to business litigation. The Law Office of Jason E. Turner, APC, represents individuals and businesses in Orange County and surrounding Southern California.

Does your contract dictate judicial reference to resolve disputes? Call 949-744-5030 to discuss Mr. Turner’s referee services.

What Is A Judicial Reference Referee?

A judicial reference referee is sometimes referred to as a private judge or special master. Section 638 of the California Code of Civil Procedure allows for the appointment of a referee to hear matters of fact or matters of law and render a decision. Although the proceedings occur away from the courthouse, the referee is essentially “deputized” as a California judge; their decision carries the same force of law as the ruling of a sitting judge.

Isn’t This Just Arbitration?

No. Like arbitration, judicial reference typically is written into contracts as the specific remedy for resolving disputes. Also like arbitration, the parties agree on a special master to hear both sides and issue a decision. But there are two key differences:

  • Arbitration is private and not bound by the normal “rules of engagement.” Judicial reference is governed by the courts, with all the same rules of evidence, discovery and procedure.
  • Binding arbitration is considered final. Judicial reference decisions are subject to appeal, the same as if the matter were heard in court.

The Advantages Of Judicial Reference

The primary selling point of judicial reference is bypassing a court system slowed by budget cuts and the ripple effects of the pandemic. The accelerated timeline allows for relatively quick and efficient resolution, which can be critical in construction disputes and other conflicts requiring an urgent remedy.

Another main advantage is that you have a say in who hears your case. Typically the referee will have specific familiarity with the industry or subject matter and will have more latitude to spend the necessary time to thoroughly review the documents and arguments. This tends to yield a more nuanced and predictable outcome.

Can Any Parties Hire A Referee?

Typically judicial reference is specified in a contract as the exclusive remedy for disputes and lawsuits that arise. In his law practice, Jason Turner has extensive experience in drafting contracts that include judicial reference clauses.

However, any litigants can opt for judicial reference if both parties agree to go that route, either in pretrial negotiations or at any point after litigation has commenced. The Superior Court is generally happy to offload cases. If the parties cannot agree on a referee, each side submits their preferred candidates, and the court chooses one.

Learn More About Judicial Reference Services

Jason Turner can explain the pros and cons of judicial reference and his credentials as a referee. He brings 20 years of wide experience in business and civil litigation, with a strong focus on construction law. As a neutral in alternative dispute resolution, Mr. Turner has built a reputation for fairness, no-nonsense efficiency and sensible rulings.

Call the Law Office of Jason E. Turner, APC in Irvine at 949-744-5030, to arrange a free initial consultation, or use the email contact form.