Court appointed Referee

What is a Court appointed referee?

A court appointed referee is a neutral person who is appointed by a judge to oversee certain proceedings or make recommendations to the court in a legal case. Some key things to know about court appointed referees:

  • Appointment - The judge has discretion to appoint a referee to assist the court with certain matters in a case. Referees are often appointed in cases that are complex, highly technical, or require significant fact-finding outside of the courtroom.
  • Qualifications - Referees are typically lawyers or other professionals with subject matter expertise relevant to the case. For example, a professional real estate auctioneer may be appointed as a referee in a complex Real estate transaction or business dispute.
  • Powers and duties - The referee's powers and duties depend on the court's order of appointment. Common duties include overseeing discovery, reviewing testimony, making evidentiary rulings, and issuing reports and recommendations on factual issues. The referee acts as an extension of the court.
  • Hearings - Referees often review related filings related to their appointed duties and issue reports to the judge summarizing evidence, making findings, and recommending resolutions on factual disputes.
  • Court review - The referee's reports and recommendations are advisory, but carry weight. The court reviews them and typically will accept the referee's factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous.
  • Payment - Referees are paid an hourly rate or fixed fee from the court budget or by the parties, as specified in the appointment order.


Here are some key things to know about using a court appointed referee to partition real estate:

  • Purpose - When co-owners of real property cannot agree on how to divide or manage the property, one or more owners can petition the court to partition the property. If the court orders partition, a referee may be appointed to recommend how to physically divide the property or whether it should be sold instead.
  • Appointment process - A party requests appointment of a referee in the partition lawsuit. The court will select an impartial referee, often a real estate professional or attorney with partition experience. All co-owners are parties to the referee proceedings.
  • Referee's duties - The referee will determine if physical partition is possible or advantageous given the nature of the property. If so, the referee surveys the property and recommends how to fairly divide it. If not, the referee values the property and oversees the sale process, typically by auction.
  • Referee's report - The referee submits a report to the court explaining the recommended partition method and terms or the property valuation and sale recommendations. The court reviews and generally approves the referee's report.
  • Partition by court order - Once the referee's report is adopted, the court will issue a final judgment ordering the partition or sale of the property pursuant to the referee's recommendations. The referee may be tasked with overseeing the partition implementation.
  • Payment - The referee's fees are paid from the proceeds of a court-ordered property sale or directly by the co-owners if the property is physically partitioned.

So in summary, the referee takes on the complex tasks of valuing the property, determining if partition is feasible, and proposing how to fairly divide or sell the property to resolve the co-owners' dispute. The court retains authority to approve the referee's recommendations and order the partition or sale.


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