MEDIATION OF CIVIL CASES
The judges and attorneys in Miami County share the objective of assisting parties in lawsuits to resolve their differences and thereby reduce litigation. The Miami County Common Pleas Court and the Miami County Bar Association jointly inaugurated a program for mediation of civil cases in December 1993. At that time the Court employed William Weigl as its mediation co-coordinator. Jack L. Neuenschwander now serves in that capacity.
Mediation is one of several forms of conflict resolution process that often leads to resolution of a legal dispute. In mediation, a trained independent mediator assists the parties and their lawyers in seeking their own resolution to their problem through a mutually acceptable agreement. This process often removes the need for a trial and the expensive costs of litigation. The annual success rate of cases resolved through the mediation process has been between 50 to 60%.
Most mediated cases are resolved during “Settlement Day” which is held on the first Tuesday of December. Regular court activities are suspended to allow the attorneys time to participate. Thirty-two cases considered ripe for settlement are selected by the judges and turned over to the bar association for mediation.
The Miami County Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee schedules each mediation for a one-hour session. It assigns a trained mediator to each case selected from a pool of fifty volunteer attorneys. The Court then notifies the parties and their attorneys to appear. Specific rules have been developed to assure that a person with authority to settle is present and that the mediation proceeds in good faith. These rules are enforced by court orders. The mediation services are donated by the volunteer attorney-mediators. Therefore, there is no cost to the litigants for this valuable conflict resolution process.
In addition to Settlement Day activities, mediation may be ordered at any time during the year for any civil case. This may be prompted by the joint request of the parties, a confidential request by one party, or by order of the Court.