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Survey Data Indicates Eviction Mediation Program Offers Procedural Justice

Jennifer Shack, March 9th, 2022

This article is part of a series of perspectives on eviction mediation program development that is being supported by the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation. The AAA-ICDR’s grant is enabling RSI to expand our outreach to court ADR colleagues working in the fast-evolving eviction field, and we are tremendously grateful to the Foundation for their support.

Last year, RSI and the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Kane County, Illinois, launched a new mediation program to address eviction cases. In this program, parties are informed of the program when they receive their summons and are invited to participate when they arrive for their initial hearing. If they decide to participate, they meet with the program coordinator, who informs them of their options, including meeting with a financial counselor and/or a legal services representative. The coordinator then schedules the mediation on a date prior to the next hearing. Mediation takes place via Zoom. Between June 2021 and early January 2022, the program mediated 81 disputes.

After each mediation, parties and attorneys are invited by email to complete a survey online about their experience. From the first 81 cases, 28 participants responded, including 6 tenants, 2 landlords and 20 attorneys. While this is a small sample size from which to draw definitive conclusions, their responses indicate the program is offering participants a positive experience in mediation.

The tenants, landlords and attorneys all gave favorable ratings to their experience in mediation. 89% indicated they would recommend mediation to a friend or colleague. 93% rated fairness of the process highly. All but one said they could express what was important to them during the mediation. When commenting about what they liked about the mediation, they most often said something positive about the mediator. A few also commented on the convenience of the process.

RSI has published these findings in a brief report available on our website. We are grateful to the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation’s support for our ongoing evaluation of the program and the dissemination of the findings, and to the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, whose support has enabled us to operate this mediation program. We look forward to sharing more information with you as the program evolves.

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