Referee Law and Legal Definition

A referee, in a legal context, is a person to whom a judge refers a case to investigate the facts of a case and examine evidence and report to the court on such findings. A referee is often an attorney that acts as a judicial hearing officer for certain types of cases.

For example, in a paternity case, the referee will hear the case in court, and based upon the evidence and the law, will make a recommendation to the court as to the outcome of the case. The referee prepares a written report containing findings and recommendations and sends the report to all parties. By law, the parties have a certain number of days after receipt of the referee's report to take exception to recommended orders of the referee and have a review by the court before final disposition of the case. If no appeal is taken, the referee's recommendations are presented as a proposed order to the court for approval. The court will then review the referee's findings and recommendations and may ratify or modify the recommendations and enter judgment thereon. However, the exact procedures will vary by juirisdiction.