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<xTITLE>Mediation Spreads To Law Enforcement At Every Level</xTITLE>

Mediation Spreads To Law Enforcement At Every Level

by Jan Frankel Schau
May 2007

From Jan Schau's blog.

Jan Frankel Schau

I had the privilege of observing a Police/Community mediation this week facilitated by the Western Justice Center Foundation. Without revealing any of the confidential information, it was a fascinating exercise for these reasons. The policemen were heard to explain to the merchants who had made the complaint against them that "In policing, there is no black and white." To the contrary, among the first comments from that Officer was that this community believes in "value based policing: a process whereby the Police Officers are vested with the discretion to determine what's "right" not merely blindly follow the letter of the law. In fact, he drew the distinction between "the letter of the law" (which is what I always assumed Police Officer's were bound by) and "the spirit of the law". I found that both fascinating and amusing!

The underlying issue was whether the Police had the discretion to refuse to press charges for a petty theft by a bunch of juveniles who had expressed remorse and whose parent's had arrived, paid for the goods, and offered to engage in a dialogue about shoplifting with their kids. The merchant wanted the Police to press charges and then assured them that through the court system, the youth would be required to attend a mediation (VORS-The Victim Offender Restitution Service), so that they could avoid a criminal record and re-pay the store. In other words, here we were in a mediation, in which one of the Police Officers charged was a trained mediator, one of the complainant's was an experienced representative of a merchant who routinely engaged in mediation, discussing who gets to decide who and when the parties mediate a given dispute! The event struck me not for its outcome, but for the stickiness of the movement of mediation. Like a virus, it's spreading and virtually no one gets immunity. Look out--I'm guessing it's coming soon to a neighborhood near you!


Attorney Jan Frankel Schau is a highly skilled neutral, engaged in full-time dispute resolution. Following a successful career spanning two decades in litigation, she has mediated over 700 cases for satisfied clients. Ms. Schau understands the nuances of trial and settlement practice as well as client relations and balancing the needs of their representatives with the risk and expenses of trial. Those who have used Ms. Schau’s services recognize excellence in her persistence, optimism, creativity and integrity.

Ms. Schau was the President of the Southern California Mediation Association in 2007 and is recognized as among the most outstanding mediators in Southern California in the mediation of civil disputes by her peers and clients. She also serves as a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, and has presided as Chair of it’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and Litigation Section. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Skills in Negotiation from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University as well as from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights at Loyola Law School.

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