Sharon Press, Professor of Law and Director of the Dispute Resolution Institute at Hamline University School of Law, has published Court-Connected Mediation and Minorities: Has Any Progress Been Made?, ABA Dispute Resolution Magazine, pp. 36-40, Summer 2013. In her article, Professor Press analyzes the effect that court-connected mediation has had on minority groups in both Texas and other states since 1988.
Here is the abstract:
After years of experimentation with the use of alternative dispute mechanisms in a variety of contexts, a new era began in 1988 when Florida and Texas became the first states to adopt legislation that authorized trial judges to order civil cases to mediation. Over the past 25 years, court-connected mediation has grown exponentially.
Mediation’s potential was great and included enhancing self-determination and mutual problem-solving and being less costly and quicker than traditional adjudicatory processes. In addition, the hope was that mediation would provide a more humane process, one in which parties could be heard, maintain their dignity and make their own decisions.
In the past two and a half decades, court-connected mediation has encountered a range of critics. Many observers have wondered about the impact of these processes on minorities. While questions remain about the pros and cons of court-ordered mediation generally, the focus of this article will be an exploration of whether progress has been made in the last 25 years regarding minorities’ experience, as both mediators and parties, in court-connected mediation.