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Civil Procedure: Rule 32 - Trial by Commissioner

Trial by Commissioner

Section 1. Reference by consent. — By written consent of both parties, the court may order any or all of the issues in a case to be referred to a commissioner to be agreed upon by the parties or to be appointed by the court. As used in these Rules, the word "commissioner" includes a referee, an auditor and an examiner. (1a, R33)

Section 2. Reference ordered on motion. — When the parties do not consent, the court may, upon the application of either or of its own motion, direct a reference to a commissioner in the following cases:

(a) When the trial of an issue of fact requires the examination of a long account on either side, in which case the commissioner may be directed to hear and report upon the whole issue or any specific question involved therein;

(b) 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.

(c) When a question of fact, other than upon the pleadings, arises upon motion or otherwise, in any stage of a case, or for carrying a judgment or order into effect. (2a, R33)

Section 3. Order of reference; powers of the commissioner. — When a reference is made, the clerk shall forthwith furnish the commissioner with a copy of the order of reference. The order may specify or limit the powers of the commissioner, and may direct him to report only upon particular issues, or to do or perform particular acts, or to receive and report evidence only and may fix the date for beginning and closing the hearings and for the filing of his report. Subject to other specifications and limitations stated in the order, the commissioner has and shall exercise the power to regulate the proceedings in every hearing before him and to do all acts and take all measures necessary or proper for the efficient performance of his duties under the order. He may issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum, swear witnesses, and unless otherwise provided in the order of reference, he may rule upon the admissibility of evidence. The trial or hearing before him shall proceed in all respects as it would if held before the court. (3a, R33)

Section 4. Oath of commissioner. — Before entering upon his duties the commissioner shall be sworn to a faithful and honest performance thereof. (14, R33)

Section 5. Proceedings before commissioner. — Upon receipt of the order of reference and unless otherwise provided therein, the commissioner shall forthwith set a time and place for the first meeting of the parties or their counsel to be held within ten (10) days after the date of the order of reference and shall notify the parties or their counsel. (5a, R33)

Section 6. Failure of parties to appear before commissioner. — If a party fails to appear at the time and place appointed, the commissioner may proceed ex parte or, in his discretion, adjourn the proceedings to a future day, giving notice to the absent party or his counsel of the adjournment. (6a, R33)

Section 7. Refusal of witness. — The refusal of a witness to obey a subpoena issued by the commissioner or to give evidence before him, shall be deemed a contempt of the court which appointed the commissioner. (7a R33)

Section 8. Commissioner shall avoid delays. — It is the duty of the commissioner to proceed with all reasonable diligence. Either party, on notice to the parties and commissioner, may apply to the court for an order requiring the commissioner to expedite the proceedings and to make his report. (8a, R33)

Section 9. Report of commissioner. — Upon the completion of the trial or hearing or proceeding before the commissioner, he shall file with the court his report in writing upon the matters submitted to him by the order of reference. When his powers are not specified or limited, he shall set forth his findings of fact and conclusions of law in his report. He shall attach thereto all exhibits, affidavits, depositions, papers and the transcript, if any, of the testimonial evidence presented before him. (9a, R33)

Section 10. Notice to parties of the filing of report. — Upon the filing of the report, the parties shall be notified by the clerk, and they shall be allowed ten (10) days within which to signify grounds of objections to the findings of the report, if they so desire. Objections to the report based upon grounds which were available to the parties during the proceedings before the commissioner, other than objections to the findings and conclusions therein, set forth, shall not be considered by the court unless they were made before the commissioner. (10, R33)

Section 11. Hearing upon report. — Upon the expiration of the period of ten (10) days referred to in the preceding section, the report shall be set for hearing, after which the court shall issue an order adopting, modifying, or rejecting the report in whole or in part, or recommitting it with instructions, or requiring the parties to present further evidence before the commissioner or the court. (11a, R33)

Section 12. Stipulations as to findings. — When the parties stipulate that a commissioner's findings of fact shall be final, only questions of law shall thereafter be considered. (12a, R33)

Section 13. Compensation of commissioner. — The court shall allow the commissioner such reasonable compensation as the circumstances of the case warrant, to be taxed as costs against the defeated party, or apportioned, as justice requires. (13, R33)

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