Mediation in Today's News

March 2014

The custom justice of ‘problem-solving courts’

A new kind of court is reshaping the American legal system—with little oversight.  When Governor Deval Patrick introduced his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, tucked amid big-ticket items like education and health care were a few small changes to the Massachusetts criminal justice system. If approved, the budget would create eight new courts: three designed specifically to deal with defendants suffering from mental illness and five for those struggling with drug addiction. In the scheme of the $36.4 billion budget, these courts represent a modest investment, and would seem like an uncontroversial nod to the idea that certain people benefit from more individualized attention in court. But in legal terms, Governor Patrick’s proposal is tapping into something much bigger. It’s a new idea about criminal justice, rooted as much in sociology and psychology as in law: the notion that certain kinds of offenders are better handled by dealing with the problems underlying their crimes rather than with simple punishment. Specialty courts—sometimes known as “problem-solving courts”—have enjoyed a rapid rise nationwide over the past 20 years, and now exist in every jurisdiction in the United States.

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State, HP in mediation over child support computer system

South Carolina has run up more than $100 million in penalties over long-delayed project.  The state and Hewlett Packard are in mediation over a long-delayed computerized child support enforcement project, a state official told senators this morning. The project, which has been decades in the making, has drawn more than $100 million in penalties from the federal government over the years. The federal government requires states to have a computerized child support enforcement system. South Carolina is the only state that does not have such a system running.

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Free Mediation in New York City

It's nearly a cliché: In New York, city of overpriced everything, you can get the most amazing stuff free of charge. We've got free Fridays at MoMA, free kayaking at the Downtown Boathouse, free lunch with the Hare Krishnas—yada, yada, yada. But recently, I heard a new one: A pal got his family squabble resolved through free mediation at something called the New York Peace Institute. Free mediation? The going rate for formal mediation is worse than therapy—$250 an hour or more. But when I called the Peace Institute, CEO Brad Heckman confirmed my buddy's account: Whether you're squabbling with a tenant, your ex-wife or the exterminator, you can stop by the institute's Financial District office for a confidential session with your personal King Solomon. There's almost no case it won't take. Roommates fighting over the dishes, bizarre love triangles, a co-worker stealing ideas—the institute's mediators see it all.

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Intense mediation leads to agreement on historic Tequesta site in downtown Miami

The owners of a downtown Miami site where archaeologists found remnants of a prehistoric Tequesta Indian village have agreed to a plan that will preserve and display “critical” pieces in place while allowing development of a long-planned hotel and entertainment complex, a mediator said Thursday evening. The announced compromise, which appeared to end weeks of controversy over the site’s fate, was hammered out over two long days of intense mediation talks this week among the developer, MDM Group, consulting archaeologist Bob Carr, preservationists and state, city and Miami-Dade County legal and historic-preservation staffers. In a significant concession that mediator Angel Cortiñas called “historic,” MDM agreed to redesign its complex to install glass enclosures over a pair of circular arrays of carved postholes in the bedrock that archaeologists believe mark the foundations of Tequesta dwellings or other structures. A brick-lined well believed to have been part of a 19th Century U.S. Army fort will be covered with a glass floor.

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Felony Charges Reduced for Accused Child Molester in Mediation

Six felony charges of lewd conduct with a child have been reduced to two misdemeanor counts of disturbing the peace after an unusual mediation in a criminal case. Michael J. Beck, 47, of Burley, was charged in February 2013 with six felony counts of lewd conduct with a child under 16. A jury trial for the case that was slated for April 7 has been vacated. Instead, the case went before a mediator March 14, and the parties reached resolution on all issues, court records show. The mediator reported that the parties agreed to amend the charges to the two misdemeanors. Cassia County Prosecutor Al Barrus said his office had a conflict of interest with the case, so it was turned over to Minidoka County. Minidoka County ultimately turned the case over to Twin Falls County for the same reason. Beck had pleaded not guilty last summer to the charges of alleged abuse of an 8-year-old girl, two 11-year-old girls, a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy. Beck was accused of having sexual contact with all three girls, witnessed by the boys.

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Ex-Mars Hill pastors want mediation, repentance

A group of 20 former pastors at Seattle-based Mars Hill Church have asked church leaders, including pastor Mark Driscoll, to begin a mediation process aimed at mutual repentance and reconciliation. The request, first disclosed by the Patheos website, was addressed to executive elders of the mega-church and its Board of Advisers and Accountability. Driscoll sits on both groups. It comes in the wake of a weekend apology letter to the church community in which Driscoll pledged to “reset my life.” He voiced regret over a book-selling scheme, and lamented recent “significant turnover of key staff members.” “I am deeply grieved and even depressed by the pain we have caused,” Driscoll wrote.

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Yukta-hubby row mediation successful

A mediator appointed by the Bombay high court to explore the possibility of reconciliation between former Miss world Yookta Mookhey and her estranged husband Prince Pal Tuli has informed the judge that the mediation was successful. The HC has now scheduled the matter for further hearing on March 26 when the mediation report is likely to be discussed. Tuli had last year moved the HC for anticipatory bail in a cruelty case filed by Mookhey against him. Sheh ad accused him of cruelty to her, intimidation and unnatural offence.The HC had in October directed that a senior advocate be appointed as a mediator to resolve the dispute amicably between the couple. The mediator appointed was advocate Rajeev Patil. On March 13, he informed Justice Mridula Bhatkar in the HC that the mediation was complete. He however sought a week's time to submit his report. The counsel for Tuli, advocate Filjee Frederick and Taubon Irani for Mookhey were present and orally informed the judge that the "mediation is successful.'

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In the City: Community Mediation Program helps neighbors mend fences

Springtime is upon us and the cold days of winter are fading behind. Some conflicts that cooled with the weather may heat up again now that people and animals are outside and neighbors see more of each other. Spring is a time of change and renewal. As you think about things you would like to change, renew or improve, consider some of the relationships or situations around you. Do you have a new or recurring issue with your landlord, your tenant, your housemate or your neighbor? Would you like to make progress toward fixing it?There are many ways to approach solving an issue in a peaceful and productive manner. This spring, commit to solving an issue or conflict in your life. You might first try approaching the other person with an open mind.

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Worcester to implement foreclosure mediation, despite possibility of legal challenge

The city is gearing up for implementation of the foreclosure mediation ordinance approved by the City Council late last year, even though legal challenges remain regarding the implementation of similar ordinances elsewhere in the state. City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. said the city is working to implement the foreclosure mediation program in its entirety as soon as possible, pending City Council approval of a necessary administrative reorganization and budgetary package. The initial groundwork for implementing the ordinance involves reorganizing the Executive Office of Economic Development's Division of Neighborhood Services so it can administer the mediation program, as well as a funding appropriation to cover program costs for the rest of the fiscal year.

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Another day, another fight! Charlie Sheen to 'haul Denise Richards into mediation' in his continued bid to reduce $55K a month child support

Charlie Sheen has fired his latest shot in his war against wife Denise Richards. The 48-year-old is now taking the mother of his two daughters - Sam, 10, and Lola, eight - to private mediation as he continues to try to get his $55,000 a month child support payment reduced. RadarOnline reported on Friday while the actor had previously hoped to plead his case in front of a judge in court, he will now have to settle for a retired judge.  An insider told the website that the Anger Management star’s legal team has 'formally notified Denise and her lawyers that they will be headed to private mediation next week to try and get the child support reduced'. The source said: 'The mediation will be handled by a retired judge who has handled various issues for the former couple over the years since their divorce.

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Singapore: Increase Community Mediation Centre's capacity and provide more mediation training to grassroots leaders

The government plans to increase the capacity of the Community Mediation Centre of CMC and provide more mediation training to grassroots leaders. Speaking during the committee of supply debate, Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong says CMC has a fairly good success rate. About 70 per cent of the 521 cases heard last year were resolved. "Mediation is an important process as both parties agree on a solution, so there is ownership and responsibility to follow through. It also helps to preserve and mend relationships, so that neighbours can continue living harmoniously alongside each other."

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How to conduct a Peer Mediation program in your school

This article includes a seven-page script revealing the step-by-step process of any given Peer Mediation session. The final page of this PDF file is a copy of the Peer Mediation Contract.

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Bishop Eddie Long Agrees to Mediation

With little fanfare or news coverage, the four sexual coercion lawsuits confronting Bishop Eddie Long had the first hearing recently, with both sides opting for mediation to avoid a trial. Why no major news outlet or editorial columnist has discussed the implications of such a move is nothing less than egregious in nature. Despite the initial media crush and coverage and the incessant analysis of Bishop Long's statement on his website and "sermon," there's been nary a peep in response to the quest for mediation.

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Kampala: All civil disputes set for mediation- judiciary

The Uganda Judiciary has announced plans to enhance mediation as a leading strategy to deal with all civil disputes filed in courts in order to fight case backlog. Speaking at the opening of a weeklong training of judicial officers in Kampala yesterday, acting Chief Justice Steven Kavuma said the initiative will tremendously reduce case backlog as well as improve public confidence in the Judiciary. “Resolution of disputes is faster. The parties design their own solutions rather than have one impose upon them and a win-win situation is created. Reconciliation, which is a cardinal principle in our Constitutional dispute resolution process, is therefore achieved,” Justice Kavuma said.

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Tips for a successful mediation

Employment lawyers don’t spend all their time in court, or acting as counsel to employers and employees. We also enjoy the opportunity to take on the role of an objective third party whose goal is to assist in dispute resolution. This blog post contains a series of tips on how parties should approach mediation, written based upon my attendance at hundreds of mediation hearings as counsel for the employee, counsel for the employer and as mediator.

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Ex-NFL player's suit against Cleveland's 'jock tax' sent to mediation by Ohio Supreme Court

A dispute over the constitutionality of Cleveland’s unique way of taxing visiting professional athletes has been referred to mediation, the Ohio Supreme Court announced Tuesday. In the lawsuit, former Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday and his wife Karen allege that Cleveland unfairly charges visiting players higher municipal income taxes than other out-of-town workers.

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Mediation Perspectives: Engaging Religion

How can policymakers and conflict mediation practitioners effectively engage with religion? Indeed, how can practitioners mainstream such engagement with religious actors and organizations? And, what do we even mean when we ask these questions? These were just some of the questions posed at Religion, Foreign Policy and Development: Making Better Policy to Make a Bigger Difference a recent conference held at the UK Foreign Office’s Wilton Park that brought together policymakers, academics and practitioners for two days of wide-ranging and intense discussions.

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How to Talk and Listen to Iran

Current negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program in Geneva have raised hopes that there may be rapprochement between Iran and the West. This recalls an earlier potential 'thaw' in U.S.-Iran relations on January 7, 1998 when some U.S. officials reacted to the then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's call for better relations between the United States and Iran in an interview with CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour. But American analysts have apparently not learned from that event. The 'thaw' failed, largely because the Americans at that time focused narrowly on what they mistakenly thought to be the substance of President Khatami's pronouncements, namely that Iran was willing to capitulate to a whole list of American demands for 'better behaviour'. In so doing, they missed the real message that Khatami wished to send. His was a message outlining how rapprochement could proceed in terms of salutary communication dynamics between the two nations. The United States has largely repeated these misunderstandings in cross-cultural communication in the current negotiations, making them exceptionally difficult.

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Summit County Probate Court develops mediation program

When Summit County Probate Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer took office in January 2013, she declared her intention to use mediation as one means of resolving disputes brought to her court. Judge Stormer developed a mediation program, and longtime Akron attorneys William Dowling and Douglas Godshall were appointed as court mediators. Concluding its first year of operation, the mediation program has proven to be a success, enabling the parties involved to resolve numerous disputes without the need for lengthy litigation and court trials.

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Rachel Canning, 18, sues parents, judge orders mediation

A northern New Jersey honor student who has sued to get her parents to support her after she moved out of their home had her initial request denied Tuesday by a judge who cautioned that the case could lead to a 'potentially slippery slope' of claims by teenagers against their parents. Rachel Canning had sought immediate relief in the form of $650 in weekly child support and the payment of the remainder of her tuition at Morris Catholic High School, as well as attorney's fees. State Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied those motions but ordered the parties to return to court on April 22, when they will present evidence and testimony on the over-arching question of whether the Cannings are obligated to financially support their daughter. Rachel Canning, a high school senior, has already been accepted by at least one college and is seeking to have her parents pay some or all of her tuition, attorney Tanya Helfand told Bogaard Tuesday. 

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Horace Mann and insurance companies ordered to begin mediation over $1.2 million sex abuse settlements

The tony Bronx prep school sued its insurance carriers, which are subsidiaries of AIG, to cover the costs of its sex abuse settlements. The companies have refused because they claim they were kept in the dark for decades on the allegations. Horace Mann and its insurance companies were ordered to begin mediation on Thursday on the school’s suit to force the carriers to cover the costs of its sex abuse settlements.

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Recognizing Religion in Conflict

Najeeba Syeed-Miller, an internationally recognized author and assistant professor of interreligious education at Claremont School of Theology, gave a talk about religious conflict and mediation at the MultiCultural Center Theater yesterday. Titled “Interfaith Peacemaking: Healing the World,” the talk highlighted the importance of understanding religion’s role in conflict escalation and resolution, as well as the consequences of ignoring this role. Miller’s work focuses on resolving a number of complex religious and cultural conflicts in the Middle East, and she has intervened in disputes between urban gangs in Southern California. Her efforts have garnered a Southern California Mediation Association’s “Peacemaker of the Year” Award in 2007, and in 2008, she received the California State Legislature Women in Law Award for her work to reduce conflict worldwide. 

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Suspensions plummet with peer mediation, but at this school, it’s just another program that’s going away

In May 2011, Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, CA, hired social worker Deonne Wesley to coordinate a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Safe and Supportive Schools program. Wesley trained 18 students to be peer mediators to work with. The good news: The program is teaching kids how to change their behavior so that they stop fighting. The peer mediators are becoming leaders. Some teachers are resolving conflicts with their students, which results in more teaching and more learning. The bad news: The grant runs out in 2014, at the end of this school year. Next school year, Mt. Diablo won’t have peer mediators or a drug counselor.

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Harwich beach battle heads to mediation

Landowners at the end of Davis Lane want up to 400 feet of new beachfront declared as their own and the town and other parties are questioning that and want to make sure access and use of the beach is preserved.  “The message from Judge Sands was crystal clear. We’ve always called for getting together to try and work this out, even before the legal dispute ended up in court. I am looking forward to the mediation effort.”

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EU to urge mediation with Russia over Ukraine

European Union foreign ministers will push on Monday for high-level mediation to resolve the crisis over Russia's invasion of Crimea, while threatening the possibility of sanctions if Russia does not back down. In emergency talks convened after Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the Crimean peninsula and said he had the right to invade Ukraine, ministers will try to strike a balance between pressure on Moscow and finding a way to calm the situation. Germany, France and Britain, the EU's most-powerful nations, are all advocating mediation, possibly via the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, while not ruling out economic measures if Moscow does not cooperate.

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Breach of Confidential Settlement? Girl costs father $80,000 with 'SUCK IT' Facebook post

The former head of a private preparatory school in Miami, Florida is out an $80,000 discrimination settlement after his daughter boasted about it on Facebook. Patrick Snay, 69 -- the former head of Guillver Preparatory School -- filed an age discrimination complaint when his 2010-11 contract wasn't renewed. In November 2011, the school and Snay came to an agreement in which Snay would be paid $10,000 in back pay, and an $80,000 settlement. Gulliver Schools also agreed to cut Snay's attorneys a check for $60,000. But before the ink could dry on the deal, Snay's daughter took to Facebook, boasting, "Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT." 

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Older Americans' Breakups Are Causing A 'Graying' Divorce Trend

For baby boomers, divorce has almost become, like marriage, another rite of passage. The post-World War II generation is setting new records for divorce: Americans over 50 are twice as likely to get divorced as people of that age were 20 years ago. But just because it's more common, doesn't mean it's not still painful.

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ATO turns to mediation to avoid costly court battles

THE Australian Taxation Office is stepping up its push to avoid costly court actions with big businesses and wealthy people. The ATO has told a landmark Productivity Commission review that it is increasingly using alternative dispute resolution -- which uses methods such as mediation by retired High Court and Federal Court judges to avoid resorting to litigation -- in the early stages of tax disputes considered to be "high risk" involving large businesses, high net-worth individuals and their private groups.

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Plaintiffs Agree to Mediation in Mentally Ill Inmate Case

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state's prison system over the treatment of mentally ill inmates are agreeing to mediate solutions to the issue while also allowing the litigation to continue. Mediation could ultimately save legal costs because it could work out solutions and end the litigation —which has been ongoing since 2005 — sooner, said Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville, chairman of the Senate Corrections Committee. "I'm glad mediation is going forward," Fair toldThe Greenville News. "I think everybody wins because of that. I choose to believe that the litigation will end more quickly because they're having the mediation."

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Carter offers mediation to fractured Venezuela

Former president Jimmy Carter plans a peace-making visit to Venezuela, he said this week to leaders of opposing sides in the South American country’s latest political unrest. In letters to President Nicolas Maduro and political opponent Henrique Capriles, whom Maduro narrowly defeated for the office in 2013, Carter requested private meeting in April when he’s scheduled to visit Venezuela for promotion of a health program, according to the Associated Press.

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Traits shared by effective mediators

The most consistently effective mediators have shared these qualities: (1) They established and then maintained credibility throughout the entire negotiation. They provided a foundation for their statements and avoided exaggeration. When they said they would do something during the negotiation, they did it. (2) They spoke persuasively and calmly. They listened attentively and acknowledged valid points that did not threaten their case. They asked information-seeking questions as well as rhetorical ones.  (3) They used time efficiently when working against a deadline. They initially tried to get deals as favorable as possible, but moved to more realistic demands and offers with enough time on the clock to do the harder endgame negotiating.

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February 2014

Adults could learn plenty from student mediators

Conflict is inevitable in high schools — or just about any place where hundreds of teenagers gather, each bringing their own personality, background and beliefs. The need to manage that conflict also is inevitable because some students lack the maturity they need to resolve their differences in a civil manner. Mayo High School takes this need seriously and has trained mediators who can intervene before disputes get out of hand. The remarkable thing is that the sessions are led by fellow students who conduct 300 to 400 conflict mediation sessions a year. It's an amazing success story, and it didn't happen by accident.

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Court refers private police records case to mediation

A student journalist’s bid to force a private university to open its police records to public scrutiny was referred to mediation today by the Ohio Supreme Court. Anna Schiffbauer, news editor of, a student-run news website, filed a mandamus action last week asking the justices to force Otterbein University to comply with public records laws. 

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Four Tricks That Make Mediation Work

If your business finds itself engaged in litigation, chances are that the dispute will be resolved in a conference room rather than a courtroom. Most lawsuits settle before judgment, and increasingly litigants are turning to mediation—negotiation assisted by a third-party facilitator —to resolve their disputes. They hope mediation will be faster and cheaper than litigation and yield a better result. But the potential benefits of such alternative dispute resolution are often undermined by the participants entering the process with the same litigation-oriented, adversarial mindset they meant to leave behind. Here are four counterintuitive strategies that harness the strengths of mediation rather than treating it as litigation light. They may not be traditional, but properly employed, they work.

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Crist: Mediation can help parents, teens solve problems

There is a lot more that goes into mediation, but this is a good overview to the framework. People need to understand before entering mediation that it is a process of compromise — meeting each other in the middle somewhere. If either party has to have everything that he or she wants at mediation, it will likely not work. 

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Denver Comic Con and Save Denver Comic Con agree to mediation

A town hall meeting scheduled for Sunday by the organization Save Denver Comic Con, which was started by Denver Comic Con co-founder Charlie LaGreca, was postponed after both sides in the ongoing dispute agreed to mediation. Save Denver Comic Con released a statement Sunday morning on its website and Facebook page announcing the mediation. "Charlie La Greca and Comic Book Classroom have both come to an agreement to re-enter into a mediation process to address the current situation. Each party fully expects to communicate truthfully with the intention of supporting CBC’s mission and community."  In an open letter released to The Denver Post last week, LaGreca made claims he was ousted with no explanation from DCC and its parent nonprofit, Comic Book Classroom, and he demanded a financial investigation of the organization. He launched Save Denver Comic Con as a platform to share his concerns with the public. Denver Comic Con responded with a statement of their own denying LaGreca’s allegations.

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Sudan to mediate Egypt-Ethiopia dam talks

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is waiting for the winner of Egypt's upcoming presidential polls to launch a mediation initiative aimed at bridging the gap between Egypt and Ethiopia regarding the latter's Nile dam project, a diplomatic source said Friday. "Sudan will play a role clearing the air and mitigating the tensions" between the two countries over Ethiopia's hydroelectric dam project, the source – who serves in the African Union and asked to remain anonymous – told Anadolu Agency.

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HOA Hires Mediator to Deal with Military Welcome Banner

A welcome home sign for an Acadiana sailor is still unwelcomed in one Lafayette neighborhood and the story is sparking other veterans to take action. As we reported a Lafayette family in the Frenchman's Creek subdivision took down a banner after a letter was sent from an attorney representing their homeowner's association.The letter stated they had 30 days to take the sign down with little explanation as to why. Now, the association has hired a legal mediator to address the situation.

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International Mediation – The New Libel Tourism?

U.S. celebs, increasingly drawn to the UK courts by its tougher libel laws, will find a new emphasis on mediation to settle media disputes.  With increasing pressure from the British Government and Judiciary for a reduction in escalating legal costs, it will be interesting to see whether these increasing calls for mediation as an alternative to litigation will be adhered to, particularly following on from the recent European Directive, which is intended to encourage alternative dispute resolution (ADR) across the board in all European states.

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New Dutch bill aims to encourage mediation

The use of mediation for the resolution of disputes is becoming increasingly popular and many governments, including the Dutch government, are encouraging its use. However, until fairly recently, Dutch law contained no specific mediation provisions. This changed with the implementation of the EU Mediation Directive (2008/52/EC). In addition to the implementation of the directive, three draft bills that aim to further embed and codify mediation as an alternative to traditional judicial procedures are pending in Parliament. This update outlines the purposes of the law implementing the directive and the three draft bills. It then focuses on the changes that the bill concerning civil and commercial matters may bring about if enacted, noting both the positive and the possibly negative consequences for (cross-border) disputes in the Netherlands.

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Q&A: What Is a Bankruptcy Mediator's Role

Federal Judge Gerald Rosen, the chief mediator in Detroit’s bankruptcy case, has a big job: overseeing tense negotiations with diverse creditor groups working to boost their individual recoveries in the Motor City’s historic Chapter 9 case. The Wall Street Journal profiled Judge Rosen, who’s been praised by some for his innovative approach and criticized by others for taking on what they consider an inappropriate advocacy role. MoneyBeat connected with other bankruptcy mediators who’ve worked on Chapter 9 cases to discuss the mediator’s role, how the process works and why it may differ from corporate bankruptcy cases.

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Legal Aid Ontario pilots independent legal advice for mediation clients

Under a new pilot aimed at reducing unrepresented family litigants and improving outcomes, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will cover the cost of a family lawyer to support clients who choose mediation and to transform those agreements into legally-binding documents. "In looking at expanding access to justice for low-income Ontarians, mediation is a good alternative to having a judge or a third party step in to resolve family relationship issues," says John McCamus, Chair of LAO. "This voluntary process empowers people to resolve their family legal issues for themselves - and with this pilot, they can be assured that the end result is legally binding."

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Puppy's death: Mediation brings saga to an end

It took a 12-hour mediation session last week to finally bring closure to a five-month saga over whether Tammy the puppy should have been put to sleep. Both sides - the woman who adopted the seven-month-old mongrel before euthanising it and the animal welfare volunteer who found it a home - agreed that re-homing the animal would have been a better option. The saga first made waves when the volunteer, Ms Ada Ong, posted Tammy's story on Facebook on Oct 11 last year, four days after the dog was put down at a clinic in Clementi.

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Legal Eye: how to lessen the impact of divorce on children

It's not news that divorce and the legal process of separation have a negative impact on children. In recent years, as this has become more apparent, courts and governments in many parts of the world have attempted to minimise the knock-on effects for youngsters. In Hong Kong, the welfare and best interest of the children in divorce is of paramount importance. This is enshrined in statute and is where judges will start when they look at a divorce case involving children. It is also a fact that if conflict in a case can be minimised, the impact on the parties and the children will also be reduced. This has led to an increase in mediation - both outside the court process and within it - and the newer concept of collaborative practice. Initially, both mediation and collaborative practice focus on what can be agreed between the parties. The problem with traditional litigation is that it tends to focus the minds of the parties on what they do not agree on and consequently each takes a position. It is a different mindset.

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Portland teachers strike: Negotiators continue marathon mediation session into Tuesday morning

After nearly 21 hours of bargaining, leaders for Portland Public Schools and its teachers union are still at the negotiating table in attempts to reach a deal that could cancel an impending teachers strike. The continued talks represent more hope than ever that leaders are eager to get an agreement on the table. Though no agreement was reached as of 6 a.m., district and union leaders seemed ready to work until a deal was reached. If the two sides reach a tentative agreement later this morning, it could avert the district's first-ever strike on Thursday.

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Battle lines harden among lawmakers as EPA mediation looms

The hot conflict over the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to treat Wind River Indian Reservation tribes as a state under the Clean Air Act began to cool during the last 10 days, as almost all parties agreed that it was time to talk, not fight, about the boundaries of the reservation. Alone among the stakeholders in the EPA dispute, the state Legislature is debating bills that may increase rather than decrease tensions about the reservation boundaries.

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Mediation pays off as Lebanon forms new government

Lebanon's new Prime Minister, Tamam Salam, announced the formation of his government Saturday, following months of bitter political wrangling. Agreement was reached after the March 14th coalition agreed to withdraw its choice for interior minister after strong opposition from Hezbollah. The names of the 24 members of the new government were solemnly read aloud in a gesture that left many Lebanese breathing a sigh of relief. The country had been in the hands of a caretaker government for many months, as both major political factions argued over who controlled what. Incoming Prime Minister Tamam Salam, who is himself the son of a beloved, long-time prime minister, noted in his inaugural message that he had attempted to put together a balanced government in which all parties participated, but without any religious or sectarian quotas. He said that the 24 ministerial posts in his government were distributed to achieve balance and participation of all national forces. He stressed that an attempt was made to avoid any religious or sectarian quotas, with the exception of the deputy prime minister's post.

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Sudan: African Mediator Struggles to Prevent Collapse of Talks On Sudan's Two Areas

The African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) is struggling to prevent the failure of peace talks on the conflict in the Two Areas, as the negotiating parties trade accusations of foiling the process. The African mediation team led by the former Thabo Mbeki refuses the failure of this round of negotiations between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), an African source close to the process told Sudan Tribune on Sunday. Mbeki held "separate encounters with the head of the Sudanese government delegation Ibrahim Gandour and the SPLM-N chief negotiator Yasir Arman before to convene a joint meeting with both of them", the sources further said. The two parties are supposed to resume direct discussions Monday as the chief mediator is drafting a new paper to be submitted to the negotiating delegations based on the outcome of three meetings they held since 13 February. The US special envoy, Donald Booth, reportedly is also exerting efforts to ensure the continuation of the process where the mediation hopes at least at this round to come out with a cessation of hostilities between the two sides.

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Mediation matters

Mediation is no panacea in family law, but clients must be properly advised on dispute resolution. The number of couples helped through publicly funded family mediation has indeed fallen. However, there is no causal link between the decline in the use of mediation and the skills of mediators. The trend has arisen directly from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act and the loss of Funding Code referrals from solicitors to Legal Aid Authority-contracted mediators by legal aid solicitors. This has been described as a ‘policy car crash’ by a number of Ministry of Justice representatives.

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Mediation beats litigation

Employment law specialist Ian Spiteri Bailey believes that Malta is in dire need of more mediation services, which he says will help reduce the load on the Maltese courts and tribunals, as well as allowing lawyers to dedicate more time to their clients. Mediation is not just a time saving exercise when compared to litigation through the courts. It can also help the company involved to avoid negative publicity, which is a victory in itself, Dr Spiteri Bailey points out. The prime concern of the mediator is not to find the solution but to help the parties come to a solution. “The settlement is always the parties’ settlement. When an agreement is reached, the mediator himself will ask the parties or the lawyers of the parties to draft the agreement themselves in the interests of their respective parties but based on the agreement that would have been reached,” Dr Spiteri Bailey explains.

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Why mediation works

As a Harvard law student two decades ago, I became involved in the well-known Harvard mediation program. After being trained as a volunteer mediator, I was sent to local small claims courts to help disputants resolve their conflict through a mediated agreement, rather than through a judge’s decision. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the vast majority of cases did, in fact, reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement. I was delighted with the outcomes, and increasingly interested in a specific question: why did mediation work? This question is heightened when you consider the limited tools which a mediator has. I could not force parties to agree. I could not give an expert opinion as to what they should do. I did not even have a strong relationship with these people – they were total strangers, who I had never met before and would never meet again.And yet, something powerful happened in mediation that worked. I dedicated my career to exploring that dynamic and using it with my clients in training, coaching, mediation, facilitation and other conflict resolution services.

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