Discovery Referee

Discovery disputes are most often resolved by the parties reaching an agreement between themselves that is practical and that they can live with.  Sometimes the matter is not that important and is simply dropped or deferred. A smaller number of these disputes need the intervention of a judge.

In relatively few cases it makes sense to the parties or to a tribunal to use a discovery referee.  There is a cost and for that reason it is rare.

The mere presence of a discovery referee at a deposition may deter abuses and put attorneys and witnesses on their best behavior if that is the problem.  A referee can help the parties balance competing interests between disclosure and privileges, reduce delays, and obviate or reduce the need for time consuming and costly resort to the courts. Sometimes creative solutions can be fashioned with the assistance of a ring wise neutral.  At the very least, the referee can help the court make a final decision by recommendations and narrowing disputes.

Discovery referees can also conduct an in camera review of documents where there are privacy, privilege, and other confidentiality issues.

Even when a judge is about to order the appointment of a discovery referee, the parties may still usually agree upon the use of a particular discovery referee and that may be preferable.

If you have a difficult or ongoing discovery dispute, I can put my 35 years of law practice, experience as a judge pro tem with these issues, and my alternative dispute resolution skills to good use with these principles in mind.

For further information, call me at (510) 333-7118 or email me at