February 01, 2011
ulane Law School professor and former dean Edward Sherman was honored at the annual meeting of court special masters on January 29, 2011, in New Orleans. The Academy of Court-Appointed Masters (ACAM), composed of judges and lawyers who have served as Special Masters, awarded Prof. Sherman the 2011 Francis McGovern Writing Award, given for contributions to the development and understanding of the role of special masters in U.S. courts.
Judges appoint Special Masters to perform a wide range of responsibilities concerning the administration of complex cases. They may oversee investigation and discovery of evidence, disposition of pre-trial motions, negotiations for settlement, compliance with court-ordered remedies, and payment of claims.
Keynote speaker at the meeting was Kenneth Feinberg, the Administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility that is paying claims resulting from the BP Oil Spill. Also speaking was Judge Eldon Fallon, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans, who has been assigned such complex cases as including the Propulsid, Vioxx, and Chinese Dry Wall litigations. The speakers described new developments in court procedures for dealing with litigation involving tens or hundreds of thousands of claims arising out of the same disaster, defective product, or environmental condition.
In accepting his award, Prof. Sherman noted that the position of Special Master has evolved over recent years in response to the reality that one judge needs assistance with huge cases. A Special Master, he said, must be adept at use of computer systems and models, economics and statistics, court-management mechanisms, claims processes, and techniques for encouraging settlement.
Edward Sherman served as Dean of Tulane Law School from July 1996 through June 2001, after 19 years on the faculty of the University of Texas School of Law. An expert in Complex Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, Sherman has dedicated 15 years to teaching on those subjects at Tulane. Other courses have included Civil Procedure, Military Law, and Jurisprudence in Literature.