RSI’s Director of Research Jennifer Shack Appointed to the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution’s Research Advisory CommitteeNicole Wilmet, November 6th, 2018
Our series, My Favorite Resource, features interviews with our court ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite resource. This month, Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet spoke with Annalise Buth, M.R. Bauer Foundation Fellow in Dispute Resolution at the Center on Negotiation and Mediation at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Bluhm Legal Clinic to learn about her favorite resource.
NW: What is your favorite resource?
AB: I would like to share about the combination of two restorative justice resources that I value. The first is the book Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community by Kay Pranis, Barry Stuart, & Mark Wedge. It provides an explanation of the theoretical framework of the circle process. The second resource is the guide Heart of Hope by Carolyn Boyes-Watson & Kay Pranis, which provides suggestions and ideas for circles.
NW: Why do you value these particular resources?
AB: Restorative justice theory informs practice, and practice informs theory. The combination of these resources is helpful in building an understanding of theory and supporting practice. I share them with students and others who are interested in learning and developing their skills.
NW: How did you first learn about these resources?
AB: I learned about these resources from a friend who is also a circle facilitator. Ultimately, my relationships with others are my most valuable resource.
NW: For those unfamiliar with these resources, what is one part of this resource that you wouldn’t want someone to miss?
AB: There is a section of appendices in Heart of Hope that includes examples of circle openings, closings, check-ins, topics and round prompts. The examples can be adapted for different situations and needs.
If you have a favorite resource you would like to share, please reach out to our Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In September, the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution (“GCDR”) issued a press release announcing their adoption of new Rules for Mediating Cases with Domestic Violence. The new rules come after the GCDR updated their Guidelines for Mediation in Cases Involving Issues of Domestic Violence (which were first adopted in 1994 and amended in 2003 and 2005) to bring the guidelines up-to-date with domestic violence research and ensure that best practices are being used. To assist in their effort to update their guidelines, the GCDR collaborated with the Georgia Commission on Family Violence (“GCFV”) to create a domestic violence working group to spearhead the change to the GCDR guidelines.
Between 2016 and 2018, the working group brought together a wide variety of experts with experience and knowledge in the areas of court ADR, domestic violence, family violence, and mediation to develop the new GCDR rules. During their collaboration, the working group developed four guiding principles for the rules including safety, self-determination, best practices and practical implementation. The first of these two principles require that cases be screened to assess whether mediation can be done safely and free from coercion. The final two principles focus on the design of the rules and require that the rules align with best practices in the field and can be reasonably implemented by local programs.
The GCDR’s new rules will be effective January 1, 2021. Until then, the GCDR and the GCFV will continue to collaborate with each other and plan to support a joint committee to oversee the implementation of the rules, training, review, and revision of the rules. Once the rules are finalized, they will be uploaded to the GCDR website. Additionally, the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution will be developing rules to assist courts in designing appropriate intake procedures and will work with the GCDR to assist courts in developing appropriate screening training for court personnel.
About eighteen months ago, we trained our first cohort of volunteer neutrals to co-mediate child protection cases in our newest court program. That training was the culmination of nearly two years of program development, in which we developed court rules and program procedures, and brought together stakeholders all in service of a shared vision to offer stability to vulnerable children. Since then, the program has assisted in over two dozen cases, providing a forum for over 150 family members, social workers, GALs and others to work out the roadblocks facing them.
On September 29-30, we trained our second cohort. Though a smaller group than the original, we are astounded at the depth of experiences they bring to the Kane County, Illinois Child Protection Mediation Program. Their backgrounds include running law, mediation and coaching practices, as well as serving in the State’s Attorney’s office. Given these cases often come loaded with emotional firepower and complex interpersonal dynamics, it is a real boon to have such accomplished neutrals with a real diversity of experience.
When we did our last training, I wrote up my takeaways, and thankfully, those lessons held up well! One other lesson we learned from surveys administered following the last training was that people left feeling apprehensive about how prepared they were to mediate these cases. Some part of that apprehension in unavoidable – we were asking our volunteers to step into a brand new program to mediate emotionally fraught, multi-party cases that few neutrals ever have the opportunity to mediate! To the extent we were able to, this time around, we as the trainers addressed that fear more directly: naming it, validating it, sharing stories about times we failed and how we rebounded.
I think we in the ADR field have an archetype of the ideal neutral as someone who confidently controls the room and the process. There’s good reason to hold that standard up, but we also have to remember it takes time, experience and at least some failure to reach that level. If our most recent training reassured our mediators of that so they can more confidently go forward and serve these families, I’m content to call it a success.
A huge thank you to our trainers Stephanie Senuta, Kevin Malone and Susan Yates. We are grateful to the Court Improvement Program and the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts for providing the funding to put on this training*, and to the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Kane County, Illinois and Flavors of North America International for furnishing the space for this training.
*In September 2015, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation awarded Resolution Systems Institute $40,000 to develop the pilot Child Protection Mediation Program in conjunction with the 16th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois in Kane County. That funding was supplemented in July 2016, when the Illinois Bar Foundation awarded RSI $5,000 to support the program’s mediators. Most recently, for the 2018 fiscal year, RSI has been awarded $40,000 from the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts’ State Court Improvement Program. Overall, $40,000 of the Kane County Child Protection Mediation Program’s.
We are pleased to introduce a new special topic on community mediation to AboutRSI.org! Written in collaboration with the National Association for Community Mediation, our latest special topic takes an in-depth look at community mediation.
Inside the special topic you will find everything you need to know about community mediation including the basics, the relationship between courts and community mediation centers, and how tracking and evaluating mediation can help community mediation centers. Additionally, our community mediation special topic offers a compilation of exemplary studies on the effectiveness of community mediation, other processes that centers use, and information that can help centers to better address issues surrounding the provision of services.
We hope you enjoy this new resource as much as we do!