Entries Tagged as 'General'

Mediate your dispute with your neighbor and be on TV

Mediation is generally considered private and confidential (unlike litigation which is public), one of the main advantages as well as one reason why mediation is not more widely well known.  HGTV is creating a new TV show to mediate dispute between neighbors and they have issued a casting call:

Feuding with your neighbor with no resolution in sight?!? We all know how very uncomfortable that can be and HGTV would like to offer you a possible solution – MEDIATION!!!

I’m guessing this is the People’s Court but for mediation?  (Incidentally, the People’s Court, Judge Judy and the like get their cases from NYC Small Claims court cases who volunteer to have their case arbitrated by the program.  NYC small claims cases were always the most fun to mediate for me.)  So, if you want your 15 minutes of fame (literally) and want the dispute with your neighbor resolved, sign up.

This blog named to Top 10 New Jersey Mediation Blogs

My colleague and fellow NJ Association of Professional Mediators member Don Vanarelli has compiled a list of the Top 10 NJ mediation blogs.  His list was published both on his blog as well as in the latest NJAPM newsletter.

Thanks to Don Vanarelli for the recognition.

Vote tomorrow!

Tomorrow, November 4, 2008, is election day across America.  Mediators are strong proponents of self-determination and elections are how society makes their self-determination.  Please be sure to vote if you are registered.

If you think that your vote doesn’t matter, please think again.  The New Jersey Office of the Public Advocate released a study showing that 15 races in NJ over the last 2 years could have had its outcome changed with just one additional vote.  51 races in the last 2 years were decied by less than 1%, meaning just a few additional votes could have swayed the results.  The 2000 presidential election was ultimately decided by a 537 vote differential in Florida (out of 5.9 million votes cast, or 0.0091%).

If you think your candidate has the race wrapped up or that your candidate’s chances are hopeless, please think again.  When I was getting my MBA at Michigan State, the incumbent Michigan governor Jim Blanchard held a sizable polling lead against challenger John Engler the night before election day.  Everyone thought a Blanchard win was a foregone conclusion.  Engler won the election.

So anything can happen and every vote matters!  Please vote and make your voice heard.  Help determine America’s future direction.

Mediation: Kinder and Gentler

A writer for the Long Beach (CA, my former home for 6 years) Post Sports wrote the following:

In one of the penultimate scenes from the film “Philadelphia”, Tom Hanks’ character waxes eloquently on the very real but somewhat infrequent joys of being a lawyer. His character states from the witness stand that “not very often, but sometimes, you get to be a part of justice being done.”

As an attorney, I can relate well to this concept of sporadic justice. Yet as rare as these moments have been in my legal life, even rarer still were there actual occurrences inside a courtroom. In fact, most of these moments occurred in the offices and conference rooms of professional mediators—individuals who remain neutral and attempt to reach dispute resolution through means other than legal opinions and court orders. During my tenure as a lawyer, I found the mediation process to be more effective and rewarding than the litigation process. It gave the litigating parties a sense that they were “having their day in court” without the drawbacks of actually being in court. Mediation often takes a fraction of the time that the court process does, is cheaper for the client and involves the actual parties to a far greater degree in the outcome than does the lawyer-dependent court process. Over the last ten years or so, most courts have now made it mandatory that parties mediate their cases before trial in an effort to reduce the amount of court time and tax dollars spent on litigating controversies that could otherwise be settled through less intrusive means.

Mediation in Criminal Law

Traditionally, mediation has been limited to civil lawsuits — commercial, family and divorce disputes.  It has rarely been used in the criminal context (beyond misdemeanors).  Now the American Bar Association is studying the possibility of using it in the criminal realm.  This is actually a form of restorative justice.  The accused meets with their victim (if both sides are willing).  For the accused, they can now see their crime was not victimless.  In fact, the accused gets to hear exactly how the victim was impacted.  On the other side, the victims may gain understanding as to why the accused committed the crime.

The result is usually an admission of the crime, some level of forgiveness and understanding and some sort of negotiated penalty for the accused.  Restorative justice is an attempt to break the cycle of crime and not just incarcerate someone with limited impact.

It should be interesting to see how this may unfold.

And Another College Coach in Mediation…

Not to be outdone by Rich Rodriguez, former University of Hawaii football coach June Jones’s breach of contract case is also going to mediation.  Jones left for Southern Methodist University in January.  From the Honolulu Advertiser:

Clyde Matsui, who helped settle the Bishop Estate trustees conflict and several other high profile issues, begins hearing the contract dispute between the University of Hawai’i and former head football coach June Jones today.

Under terms of Jones’ last contract with UH, the parties were to go to “final and binding arbitration” to settle the differences arising out of UH’s demand for liquidated damages following his departure for Southern Methodist University in January.

But Gregg Takayama, spokesman for the UH-Manoa Chancellor’s Office, said, “Jones requested, and the Chancellor (Virginia Hinshaw) agreed to, mediation prior to a ‘final and binding arbitration.’ If the parties cannot resolve the matter in mediation, then the parties will proceed to arbitration.”

Takayama said Matsui was chosen to hear the case and “a pre-mediation meeting is scheduled for (today). Mediation begins on June 9.”

Matsui, 60, a prominent attorney, is a UH graduate and Warrior sports fan.

UH has asked Jones to pay liquidated damages of $400,008 — half his annual UH paycheck — for terminating a five-year agreement before its contracted June 30, 2008 expiration date.

Jones left UH six days after the Warriors’ Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia to become head coach at SMU, where he reportedly more than doubled his annual UH pay of $800,016.

A clause in his last UH contract, signed in 2003, provides for $400,008 in liquidated damages “if he terminates this agreement prior to June 30, 2008.” Though Jones received $800,016 per year from UH, the school said half of it was paid by donations.

The contract specifies payment within 60 days of departure, meaning it was due March 7, 2008.

But Jones’ agent, Leigh Steinberg, has maintained, “We had an explicit agreement with (ex-athletic director) Herman Frazier that, after three years, there would be no penalty if coach Jones were to leave the university. If that were not the case, coach Jones would always honor a contractual obligation.”

Moreover, Steinberg said he has e-mails reaffirming the agreement.

UH has claimed the original contract is unchanged with no record on file allowing an early exit without liquidated damages. Frazier was terminated a day after Jones’ departure to SMU.

UH notes the contract “…may be amended only in writing signed by both parties.”

The contract says an arbitrator’s fee will be shared and each party is responsible for their own attorney fees.

Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to to wish all of my client and colleague subscribers and readers a Happy and Healthy New Year!

2007 was a blessed year for me and I hope all your worthy desires are accomplished in 2008.


Upgrades abound in life and my blog is no exception. I was using a software platform that is no longer supported and is not as robust as WordPress. The latter has so many additional features and is so much more secure. I will be making it look more pretty as time goes on. The old blog has been moved to this one now.

It’s been a while since I last posted. In the interim, I got married (I’ll need all my negotiating and mediating skills for this). We also took a trip to the west coast (where I used to live) to see many friends. So, please pardon my absence.

With that being said, on with the blogging!

Primate Mediation

Proving any dispute can be mediated, here’s one from the San Antonio Express-News that describes a dispute over monkeys.

More than Mediation

Here’s an interesting editorial detailing how mediation helped numerous parties come together to resolve the sexual abuse lawsuits against a Catholic Diocese in Oregon.  The original can be found here.
More than mediation
A Register-Guard Editorial
Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The word “mediation” is hardly sufficient to describe the effort required to forge Monday’s announced settlement resolving nearly 150 lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland. The suits were filed by people claiming to have been sexually abused by priests in Western Oregon.

Because of an unnecessary gag order on attorneys and all parties involved in the case, details of the settlement and the bankruptcy reorganization of the archdiocese won’t be available until later this month. But the mere fact that U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan and Lane County Circuit Judge Lyle Velure managed to resolve all but 20 claims and to complete a reorganization plan that could allow the archdiocese to resume normal operations after three years of bankruptcy represents a remarkable achievement.

Consider the formidable challenges that confronted Hogan and Velure when they began secret talks with parties in the case last August: Two judges with very different temperaments and working across jurisdictional lines found themselves confronted with a disparate group of plaintiffs and an archdiocese that had very different ideas about what constituted just compensation for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The legal landscape could hardly have been more jumbled with obstacles. There were claims filed on insurance policies written three decades ago. There were the complexities of Roman Catholic canon law, which the archdiocese claimed prevented it from selling individual parishes’ property and schools to satisfy judgments. There were the claimants who insisted on their cases going to trial, and the possibility of claims that have yet to be filed.

Then there were the wrenching dynamics of human emotion: The anguish of victims of clergy sexual abuse who rightly regarded just settlements as an integral part of the healing process. The anxiety of church members uncertain if their local parishes and schools might be sold to pay legal claims. The frustration of church officials struggling to balance the need to keep the archdiocese intact with their responsibility to justly compensate victims.

If the reorganization plan is accepted next week by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Velure and Hogan will have succeeded in resolving one of the most difficult mass litigations in Oregon history. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment that vividly demonstrates the important role that judges can, and often do, play by resolving legal disputes before they go to trial, devouring vast amounts of time and money and leaving deep emotional scars.

Thanks to the efforts of Hogan and Velure, the parties involved in the abuse cases will be spared months, perhaps years, of protracted and costly litigation. Victims will be able to move on with their lives, the archdiocese can emerge from the cloud of bankruptcy, local parishes and schools will be able to plan with certainty for their futures, and sex-abuse victims who have yet to come forward will find resources available to settle their claims.

This many-sided and far-reaching resolution will gain a rightful place in Oregon history.