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Rule 53. Masters

Arizona Revised Statutes AnnotatedRules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Courts of Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated
Rules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Courts of Arizona (Refs & Annos)
VI. Trials
16 A.R.S. Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 53
Rule 53. Masters
(a) Appointment.
(1) Scope. Unless a statute provides otherwise, a court may appoint a master only to:
(A) perform duties consented to by the parties;
(B) hold trial proceedings and make or recommend findings of fact and conclusions of law on issues to be decided without a jury if appointment is warranted by:
(i) some exceptional condition; or
(ii) the need to perform an accounting or resolve a difficult computation of damages; or
(C) address pretrial and posttrial matters that cannot be effectively and timely addressed by an available superior court judge in the county in which the court sits.
(2) Disqualification; Affidavit.
(A) A master must not have a relationship to the parties, attorneys, action, or court that would require disqualification of a judge under Arizona Supreme Court Rule 81, unless the parties, with the court's approval, consent to the appointment after the master discloses any potential grounds for disqualification.
(B) Promptly on receiving notice of an appointment or a prospective appointment, and before accepting the appointment, the prospective appointee must file an affidavit disclosing whether there is any ground for disqualification under Rule 53(a)(2)(A).
(3) Possible Expense or Delay. In appointing a master, the court must consider the fairness of imposing the likely expenses on the parties and must protect against unreasonable expense or delay.
(b) Order Appointing a Master.
(1) Notice. Before appointing a master, the court must give the parties notice and an opportunity to be heard. Any party may suggest candidates for appointment.
(2) Objection. If one or more parties object to the appointment of a master or to a proposed appointee, the court may:
(A) decline to make the appointment; or
(B) appoint a master based on a finding on the record stating the reasons that:
(i) one or more of the circumstances for the appointment specified in Rule 53(a)(1) are present;
(ii) the benefit to the parties and the court outweighs the likely expense; and
(iii) the appointment is warranted after considering the parties' respective abilities to pay the likely expense.
(3) Contents. The appointing order must direct the master to proceed with all reasonable diligence and must state:
(A) the master's duties, including any investigation or enforcement duties, and any limits on the master's authority under Rule 53(c);
(B) the circumstances, if any, in which the master may communicate ex parte with the court or a party;
(C) the nature of the materials to be preserved and filed as the record of the master's activities;
(D) the time limits, method of filing the record, other procedures, and standards for reviewing the master's orders, findings, and recommendations; and
(E) the basis, terms, and procedure for fixing the master's compensation under Rule 53(g).
(4) Amending. The order may be amended at any time after notice to the parties and an opportunity to be heard.
(5) Providing Master with Copy of Order. When a master is appointed, the clerk must provide the master with a copy of the appointing order in a timely manner.
(c) Master's Authority.
(1) Generally. Unless the appointing order directs otherwise, a master may:
(A) regulate all proceedings;
(B) take all appropriate measures to perform the assigned duties fairly and efficiently; and
(C) if conducting an evidentiary hearing, exercise the appointing court's power to compel, take, and record evidence.
(2) Sanctions. The master may by order impose on a party any noncontempt sanction provided in Rule 37 or 45, and may recommend a contempt sanction against a party and sanctions against a nonparty.
(3) Meetings. Unless the court orders otherwise, upon receiving the appointing order the master must promptly set a time and place for the first meeting of the parties or their attorneys. The first meeting should be held within 20 days after the date of the appointing order. If a party fails to appear at the scheduled meeting, the master may proceed ex parte or, in the master's discretion, reschedule the meeting with notice to the parties.
(4) Master to Proceed with Reasonable Diligence. The master must proceed with reasonable diligence. Any party, after notice to the other parties and master, may apply to the court for an order requiring the master to expedite the proceedings and, if applicable, make the report.
(d) Master's Orders. A master who issues an order must file it and promptly serve a copy on each party. The clerk must enter the order on the docket.
(e) Master's Reports. A master must report to the court as required by the appointing order. The master must file the report and promptly serve a copy on each party, unless the court orders otherwise.
(f) Action on the Master's Order, Report, or Recommendations.
(1) Opportunity to Object; Action Generally. In acting on a master's final order, report, or recommendations, the court:
(A) must consider and rule on any objections and motions filed by the parties; and
(B) may adopt or affirm, modify, wholly or partly reject or reverse, or resubmit to the master with instructions.
(2) Time to Object or Move to Adopt or Modify. A party may file objections to--or a motion to adopt or modify--the master's final order, report, or recommendations no later than 10 days after the master's final order, report, or recommendations are served, unless the court sets a different time.
(3) Reviewing Factual Findings. The court must decide all objections to findings of fact made or recommended by a master under the clearly erroneous standard, unless the parties stipulate with the court's consent that:
(A) the master's findings will be reviewed de novo; or
(B) the findings of a master will be final.
(4) Reviewing Legal Conclusions. The court must decide de novo all objections to conclusions of law made or recommended by a master.
(5) Reviewing Procedural Matters. Unless the appointing order establishes a different standard of review, the court may set aside a master's ruling on a procedural matter only for an abuse of discretion.
(g) Compensation.
(1) Fixing Compensation. Before or after judgment, the court must fix the master's compensation on the basis and terms stated in the appointing order, but the court may set a new basis and terms after giving notice and an opportunity to be heard.
(2) Payment. The compensation must be paid either:
(A) by a party or parties; or
(B) from a fund or subject matter of the action within the court's control.
(3) Allocating Payment. If a master's compensation is to be paid by a party or the parties, the court must allocate payment among the parties after considering the nature and amount of the controversy, the parties' means, the extent to which any party is more responsible than other parties for the reference to a master, and any other factor the court deems relevant. An interim allocation may be amended by the court to reflect a decision on the merits after providing notice to the parties and an opportunity to be heard.


Added Sept. 2, 2016, effective Jan. 1, 2017.
16 A. R. S. Rules Civ. Proc., Rule 53, AZ ST RCP Rule 53
State Court Rules are current with amendments received through May 15, 2024. The Code of Judicial Administration is current with amendments received through May 15, 2024.
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