What is a Reference Judge?
A Reference Judge is an attorney or judge that is picked by the parties due to his or her unique skill or experience in a particular area of law to act as the assigned judge for a case that is already or will be pending in the court system.
· A Reference Judges must be approved by the county in which the case has been filed and they must be chosen from a list approved by the Presiding Judge of the County as well as the Oregon Supreme Court.
· Reference judges are senior judges, retired judges or trial attorneys with special skills.
· Reference judges usually charge by the hour.
· Not all Oregon Counties use reference judges.
· The Reference Judge has all the judicial powers and duties of a judge of the circuit court to regulate all the proceedings in the trial and disposition of the action on reference.
· The Circuit Court must appoint the reference judge both sides agree to.
Some Advantages of Using a Reference Judge
Speed and Flexibility:
· You can get rulings Reference Judge on procedural matters quickly.
· You can avoid arbitrary deadlines that the local county normally imposes.
· You can get a trial date much faster with a reference judge and it will not be delayed due to other pressing court matters.
· You can consent to have the judge also be your settlement judge.
· A Trial, if necessary, may be more efficient because a reference judge has greater flexibility as to place, time, method and location.
· A reference judge is usually chosen for his or her special knowledge and ability to handle complex issues.
· You can choose a reference judge who is skilled at complex litigation rather than take your chances with a state court judge with less experience.
· In cases where there are large or difficult-to-value assets, complex business arrangements, unique tax issues, hidden income or complex family dynamics, a reference judge may be better suited to assist with these issues in a divorce.
· Unlike regular court trials, after a trial the Reference Judge will issue a Preliminary Ruling and then the parties have an opportunity to provide written objections and suggested modifications or corrections before a final ruling is issued.
· A reference judge brings to your case a desire to do good work as you have chosen him or her for the job.
· Some state court judges, due to their own pressures, lack of experience, tenure or interests may not have the time or motivation to give your case the commitment you and your client may need.
· Because a reference judge is being paid to do a thorough and high-quality job, they have both a reputational and financial incentive to do a good job.
· You can be assured that a Reference Judge, selected by you, will take the time needed to be fair, listen to the needs of the parties, listen carefully to the arguments made by legal counsel, make detailed and accurate findings of fact and conclusions of Law.
· You can also be assured that the Reference Judge will explain the ruling in detail so that it’s well-understood by all both the parties and the lawyers.
How to Find a Reference Judge to Handle your Divorce Case
· All reference judges are pre-approved by the Oregon Supreme Court and on a certified list for the county which has adopted the Reference Judge Program.
· Your lawyer can contact the County Court Administrator or the Oregon Supreme Court for a list of Approved Reference Judges in your jurisdiction.
· If you do not want to take your chances with a ‘luck of the draw” judge assignment in your case, or if you just want more control of your case by having a dedicated and experienced family law judge, then you should discuss with your attorney the possibility of hiring a Reference Judge.
· Gilbert B. Feibleman, of Feibleman, Case & Wilson PC, is a highly skilled Family Law Lawyer with over 43 years of experience and he is approved as Reference Judge for Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Curry, Deschutes, Jefferson, Josephine, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill counties.