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Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

Author Archive

Settlement Conferences and the Price of Contempt

Mary Novak, May 27th, 2014

In a settlement conference, what is the value of having someone present with full authority to settle? If one party lacks the authority, it can result in aggravation, wasted court fees, and lost time for trial preparation. American Family Insurance (AFI) recently learned this to their cost in a dog-bite case in Washoe County, Nevada. Because Judge Janet Berry did not believe the insurers had complied in good faith with her rules on authority to settle, she found the company in contempt and sanctioned them $50,000. (more…)

RSI to Present at 16th Annual ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Conference

Mary Novak, March 27th, 2014

Next week, RSI Executive Director Susan Yates will give two presentations during the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution Conference. During the Symposium on ADR in the Courts on Wednesday, Susan will join a panel discussing the current state of court ADR research. She will offer a first look at a new tool that is coming to our CourtADR.org website, a new way to explore our bibliography of court ADR studies and examine program effectiveness across North America. On Thursday Susan will join a panel discussion on whether mediators should be licensed by the state, and what would be involved in implementing such a process. Mary Novak, RSI’s Resource Center Director, will also attend the conference. If you plan to be in Miami next week, we hope you’ll stop by our table in the Exhibit Hall and say hello.

In re Lee Part 3: Implications for Stakeholders

Mary Novak, November 19th, 2013

In this final installment of our series on the Texas family mediation case In re Lee, we’ll examine the implications of the holding upon parents, judges and mediators. To recap, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in In re Le that a trial court judge must enter a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) two parents had made arranging custody for their child, even though the judge believed the MSA was not in the child’s best interests. So what does the ruling mean for the different stakeholders in family mediation? (more…)

In re Lee Part 2: Parental Autonomy vs. Judicial Oversight

Mary Novak, October 21st, 2013

For the second part of this series on the family court mediation case In re Lee, I’ll examine the laws at issue in the case, then discuss the legal reasoning and policy that the Texas Supreme Court majority and dissent each followed in making their decisions. The crucial statute in the case was Texas Family Code Chapter 153, which relates to custody. Two sections of that code came into conflict in the case.

Best Interest of Child (§153.002) says the best interest of the child should always be the court’s primary consideration in custody issues.

Alternate Dispute Resolution Procedures (§153.0071) includes rules for mediation. Several parts of this section were relevant to Lee’s case. (more…)

RSI Celebrates Professor Katheryn Dutenhaver at Conflict Resolution Day

Mary Novak, October 21st, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Resolution Systems Institute presented our Harris H. Agnew Service to Community Award to Professor Katheryn Dutenhaver at ACR Chicago’s Conflict Resolution Day.

The award is presented to individuals whose cumulative activities have substantially and meaningfully furthered and enhanced court ADR systems in Illinois. For 2013, we honored Professor Dutenhaver with a plaque that reads as follows:

“Professor Dutenhaver is a pioneer in the ADR field. She began teaching mediation to law students in 1986 and by the next year, her students were mediating small claims cases – some of the first students in the nation to do so. The success of this program led Professor Dutenhaver to co-found the Center for Dispute Resolution at DePaul University. Other Chicago law schools have followed in her footsteps by offering such opportunities to students. (more…)