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Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

RSI Welcomes the Honorable Nancy Katz to its Board of Directors

Just Court ADR, August 12th, 2019

RSI is proud to introduce the Honorable Nancy Katz (ret.) to our Board of Directors! Since 2017, Judge Katz has been working with JAMS as a mediator and an arbitrator, having served for 17 years as an Associate Judge on the domestic relations bench in the Circuit Court of Cook County (Chicago), Illinois. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Katz served as Assistant General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and as Project Director and Staff Attorney for Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago.

Judge Katz is active as an educator in family law issues for judges, attorneys and the public. As a Judge on a domestic relations calendar for 17 years, Judge Katz has substantial judicial and settlement experience in all kinds of family law cases. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers recognized Judge Katz in 2013 with its prestigious Samuel Berger award recognizing her “high(est) standards of integrity, courtesy, knowledge of family law and the extraordinary ability to solve human problems.” Judge Katz received her undergraduate degree from Northeastern Illinois University and her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology.

RSI is proud to have Judge Katz join our Board and we hope you will join us in welcoming her to our organization!

RSI’s 2018 Annual Report: Building on our Foundation

Just Court ADR, August 8th, 2019

Resolution Systems Institute is dedicated to strengthening access to justice through court alternative dispute resolution. Our core services through which we effectuate this mission are sharing reliable information, conducting principled evaluations and administering impactful programs.

In 2018, we took our services to new heights. RSI is pleased to share with you our 2018 Annual Report, which highlights the tremendous successes and organizational growth we enjoyed this past year. We invite you to explore all the ways RSI has been working to empower courts to serve all parties fairly and with dignity.

If you are inspired by this work and our mission, we encourage you to consider making a contribution to support our efforts. Resolution Systems Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and relies upon contributions from individual donors to sustain our work.

My Favorite Resource Featuring D.G. Mawn

Nicole Wilmet, July 23rd, 2019

Our series My Favorite Resource, features interviews with our ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite ADR resources. This month, Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet spoke with D.G. Mawn, National Association of Community Mediation, to learn about his favorite resource.

NW: What is one of your favorite ADR resources?

DM: One of my favorite resources is the NAFCM On Demand webinars.

NW: Why do you value this particular resource?

DM: The On Demand feature is great for several reasons. First, if I am not able to listen in on the second Thursday of the month, I can listen to the webinars at times that are convenient for me.  Secondly, I get a second chance to listen and hear things I generally miss the first time. Thirdly, the On Demand feature helps me with an easy tool for training inspiration. There are 85 webinars presently housed for continual usage.

NW: How did you first learn about this resource?

DM: I first learned of this resource when I joined NAFCM in 2011 and listened to the webinar provided by Elaine Dickhoner, “Put Community First in Your Mediation Center,” in early 2012.

NW: For those unfamiliar with this resource, what is one part of this resource that you wouldn’t want someone to miss?

DM: The opportunity for continual learning, both as a listener and as a presenter. NAFCM webinars include a wide range of presenters, many of whom are practitioners in the field of community mediation. If you have something you want to share, please contact NAFCM to let them know. This is a great platform for expanding knowledge and creating connections.

If you have a favorite resource you would like to share in an upcoming edition of our newsletter and on our blog, please reach out to our Resource Center Director and Court ADR Connection Editor, Nicole Wilmet at nwilmet@aboutrsi.org!

Victim Youth Conferencing Program in Nebraska Showing Promise

Jennifer Shack, July 22nd, 2019

A statewide victim youth conferencing (VYC) program in Nebraska has proven to be successful at promoting participant satisfaction, attaining reparations agreements and ensuring youth fulfillment of those agreements. The program was launched in March 2015 as a pilot in three jurisdictions covering four counties and was expanded statewide in January 2018. Services are provided by Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution-approved mediation centers. Referrals to the program came at three stages: pre-court referrals from the County Attorneys’ offices after a school-based incident, court diversion referrals from the County Attorney and Courts pre-adjudication, and referrals from the court post-adjudication.

The evaluation of the VYC program looked at the program’s goals to determine whether they were being met, as well as other aspects of the program, including who was served by the program and how the process was working in each of the centers providing the services. In terms of outcomes, the program had the following goals: 95% of conferences will end with a reparations agreement, 95% of agreements will be fulfilled and 97% of participants will report being satisfied with the process. The program exceeded the first goal and came within a percentage point or two of attaining the other two goals. All conferences held ended with a reparations agreement. Youth completed 94.2% of those agreements and partially completed 5.8% of them. Ninety-five percent of participants were satisfied with the process.

In addition to being satisfied with the process, 89% of participating youth and 70% of participating victims believed that the VYC made the justice system more responsive to their needs. Further, 94% of victims agreed that it was helpful to talk directly with the person who was responsible for the harm, and 77% of victims said that meeting that person reduced any fear that he/she would commit another crime against them. The youth held similar opinions: 88% said it was helpful to talk directly with the victim and 94% said that after the meeting they had a better understanding of the full impact of the crime on others.

The program also had longer-term goals of reducing recidivism, “closing the gap in disproportionate minority contact with courts,” increasing safety in communities and sustaining capacity for VYC statewide. The program’s effect on recidivism proved hard to assess. The evaluator found that the 38 youth who participated in the initial pilot, 16% recidivated in the succeeding 12 months, compared to 24% of the 17 youth who did not. However, the data was insufficient and unreliable, so she did not determine that participation in the program caused the reduction in recidivism. The hope is that later evaluations can address this, as well as the other goals mentioned above.

Nebraska Updates Legislation to Include Restorative Justice

Nicole Wilmet, July 19th, 2019

In May, the Nebraska legislature passed an alternative dispute resolution bill that, in part, updates the state’s Dispute Resolution Act, Juvenile Code, and Student Discipline Act to include restorative justice provisions and expand the Office of Dispute Resolution’s authority to utilize restorative justice. The updated Dispute Resolution Act now requires the Office of Dispute Resolution director to support the implementation, development, promotion and evaluation of restorative justice at ADR centers. Individuals approved to be restorative justice facilitators at these centers are required to complete 30 hours of basic mediation training and must also undergo additional restorative justice focused training in topics including, but not limited to, restorative justice basics, trauma-informed practices, juvenile developmental characteristics and crime victimization.

The bill also updates the Dispute Resolution Act to include a privilege for communications made during or in connection with cases referred to restorative justice programs. The new bill also provides definitions for restorative justice and restorative justice facilitator in both the Dispute Resolution Act and Juvenile Code and further defines victim conferencing in the Juvenile Code.

Updates to the Juvenile Code include providing restorative justice as an option in juvenile cases and permitting courts to order juveniles for assessment and referral to restorative justice programs. Additionally, the newly updated Juvenile Code permits county/city attorneys to utilize restorative justice services as a part of diversion. Finally, the new legislation updates the Student Discipline Act and permits school districts to refer students to restorative justice practices and services to address behavioral issues. The bill was signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts on May 21, 2019 and may be read in full here.