CALIFORNIA CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE
TRIALS BY REFEREES
C.C.P. Section 639
(a) When the parties do not consent, the court may, upon the written motion
of any party, or of its own motion, appoint a referee in the following
cases pursuant to the provisions of subdivision (b) of Section 640:
(1) When the trial of an issue of fact requires the examination of a long
account on either side; in which case the referees may be directed to
hear and decide the whole issue, or report upon any specific question
of fact involved therein.
(2) When the taking of an account is necessary for the information of the
court before judgment, or for carrying a judgment or order into effect.
(3) When a question of fact, other than upon the pleadings, arises upon
motion or otherwise, in any stage of the action.
(4) When it is necessary for the information of the court in a special
(5) When the court in any pending action determines that it is necessary
for the court to appoint a referee to hear and determine any and all discovery
motions and disputes relevant to discovery in the action and to report
findings and make a recommendation thereon.
(b) In a discovery matter, a motion to disqualify an appointed referee
Section 170.6 shall be made to the court by a party either:
(A) Within 10 days after notice of the appointment, or if the party has
not yet appeared in the action, a motion shall be made within 10 days
after the appearance, if a discovery referee has been appointed for all
(B) At least five days before the date set for hearing, if the referee
assigned is known at least 10 days before the date set for hearing and
the discovery referee has been assigned only for limited discovery purposes.
(c) When a referee is appointed pursuant to paragraph (5) of subdivision
(a), the order shall indicate whether the referee is being appointed for
all discovery purposes in the action.
(d) All appointments of referees pursuant to this section shall be by written
order and shall include the following:
(1) When the referee is appointed pursuant to paragraph (1), (2), (3),
or (4) of subdivision (a), a statement of the reason the referee is being
(2) When the referee is appointed pursuant to paragraph (5) of subdivision
(a), the exceptional circumstances requiring the reference, which must
be specific to the circumstances of the particular case.
(3) The subject matter or matters included in the reference.
(4) The name, business address, and telephone number of the referee.
(5) The maximum hourly rate the referee may charge and, at the request
of any party, the maximum number of hours for which the referee may charge.
Upon the written application of any party or the referee, the court may,
for good cause shown, modify the maximum number of hours subject to any
findings as set forth in paragraph (6).
(6) (A) Either a finding that no party has established an economic inability
to pay a pro rata share of the referee's fee or a finding that one
or more parties has established an economic inability to pay a pro rata
share of the referee's fees and that another party has agreed voluntarily
to pay that additional share of the referee's fee.
A court shall not appoint a referee at a cost to the parties if neither
of these findings is made.
(B) In determining whether a party has established an inability to pay
the referee's fees under subparagraph (A), the court shall consider
only the ability of the party, not the party's counsel, to pay these
fees. If a party is proceeding in forma pauperis, the party shall be deemed
by the court to have an economic inability to pay the referee's fees.
However, a determination of economic inability to pay the fees shall not
be limited to parties that proceed in forma pauperis. For those parties
who are not proceeding in forma pauperis, the court, in determining whether
a party has established an inability to pay the fees, shall consider,
among other things, the estimated cost of the referral and the impact
of the proposed fees on the party's ability to proceed with the litigation.
(e) In any matter in which a referee is appointed pursuant to paragraph
(5) of subdivision (a), a copy of the order appointing the referee shall
be forwarded to the office of the presiding judge of the court. The Judicial
Council shall, by rule, collect information on the use of these references
and the reference fees charged to litigants, and shall report thereon
to the Legislature by July 1, 2003. This subdivision shall become inoperative
on January 1, 2004.