A representative of the court appointed to hear a case involving difficult or specialized issues.
Special masters are officers of the court who serve in a Quasi-Judicial role at the pleasure of the appointing court. Special masters are employed in complex civil actions where their expertise would assist the court in developing the record. In addition, special masters may be established by Congress to assist in the administration of claims against the government.
Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) provides the authority for the appointment of special masters by U.S. District Courts. Because state civil procedure rules are modeled on the FRCP, similar authority is granted to state trial courts. Rule 53 defines the word master to include referees, auditors, examiners, and assessors.