Ok, this blog is not about how to
handle big international or even divorce mediations or even large sums of
money. It’s about Small Claims
court, where the every day Joe, Linda, Sam, Jose, Hector, Frank, usually
representing themselves, go to seek a taste of American justice. Since mediation is a part of American
justice, it is only appropriate for mediators to support the Courts
efforts. Just don’t do it for the
money because, there isn’t any. The
benefit is we may learn a few things.
Small Claims Court in
Hawaii has a
mandatory mediation requirement before cases go to trial the same day. In this manner judges give the
disputants one last chance to negotiate an Agreement rather than an imposed
judgment which is without appeal.
The judgments are exclusively monetary in nature and have a limit of
$3,500. The trial occurs directly
after a failed mediation.
Small Claims mediators are
volunteers working for, and trained by, organizations like the Mediation Center of the Pacific, Inc. I am one of those volunteers and I go to
District Court one half day a week.
Small Claim court mediations are focused, requiring disputants willing,
and having the authority, to negotiate. For a variety of reasons many are not so
willing. For the mediator, a small
claims court case is the equivalent of the football 2 minute drill with, often,
98 yards to a touchdown. We get approximately 20 to 30 minutes from start to
finish, including the admin work.
Success in getting Agreements is highly dependent on developing a “hard
ball negotiations” approach to mediating these cases. The purpose of this blog is to share and
exchange experience with others in like situations, and to invite the
uncommitted to become involved in this aspect of our justice system.
Leo Hura, Mediator -JD - Facilitator -Conflict Resolution Training Program Developer practices mediation out of Honolulu Hawaii. An experienced mediator Leo has turned his atttention to developing training programs designed to inform, educate, and promote the use of peaceful means for avoiding, preventing, resolving conflict in business with business, business with client, and interpersonal relationships.
Leo writes extensively on his blogs, has written two booklets for clients on mediatin and small claims court claims, and numerous articels about the practice and use of colalborative means to resolve conflict.