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RSI’s Director of Research Jennifer Shack Appointed to the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution’s Research Advisory Committee

Nicole Wilmet, November 6th, 2018
Congratulations to our Director of Research Jennifer Shack on being appointed to the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution’s Research Advisory Committee!
The Research Advisory Committee is charged with bringing science to the delivery of conflict prevention and dispute resolution services and sharing cutting-edge conflict resolution research with the Section. Other appointees to the committee include Donna Shestowsky, Doug Van Epps, Howard Herman, Tom Stipanowich and Lin Adrian. The committee is chaired by Nancy Welsh.
As the Director of Research here at RSI, Jen conducts complex evaluations of court-based mediation programs and researches the effectiveness of mediation in court settings. In addition to this work, each month, Jen shares the latest court ADR research in our Court ADR Connection newsletter. Jens work can be found on To start reading Jen’s articles, research and program evaluations, click here.
Congratulations again to Jen and each of the other appointees!

Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution Adopts New Intimate Partner Violence Screening Policy

Nicole Wilmet, November 1st, 2018

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.

Introducing the Community Mediation Special Topic

Nicole Wilmet, October 26th, 2018

We are pleased to introduce a new special topic on community mediation to! 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!

My Favorite Resource Featuring Kevin Malone

Nicole Wilmet, August 29th, 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 Kevin Malone, RSI’s Program Manager for the 16th Circuit Kane County Child Protection and Foreclosure Mediation Programs to learn about his favorite ADR resource.

NW: What is your favorite ADR Resource?

KM: I have several that I rely on, but the one I return to time and again is The Making of a Mediator by Michael Lang and Alison Taylor.

NW: Why do you value this particular resources?

KM: This book provides a great process for bridging the gap between theory and practice. Lang and Taylor provide tools to figure out what a mediator is good at, what they need to work on, and how to find that sweet spot between developing a mediator’s skills and tapping into a mediator’s talents.

NW: How did you first learn about this resources?

KM: It was assigned reading for my graduate work at the University of Denver’s Center for Conflict Resolution. I revisited the book when I began working as a co-mediator for our Child Protection Mediation Program.

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

KM: Lang and Taylor have a chapter that walks the reader through their “constellation of theories”. A mediator will be able to figure out what theories they have tucked away and how those theories impact their practice of mediation. I have found this to be a very powerful tool in self-assessment and recommend all the mediators in my program at least once try something similar.

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

U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan Launches Pilot Mediation Program for Pro Se Prisoners

Nicole Wilmet, August 27th, 2018

In June, the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan launched a two-year pilot mediation program for pro se prisoners. The Early Mediation Program for Pro Se Prisoner Civil Rights Cases will offer mediation as an alternative to litigation for pro se prisoners who have filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”). In its press release, the court reports that, in 2017, Michigan prisoners filed 248 civil rights suits in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Among these cases, 97% of prisoners were pro se litigants.

Under the new pilot program, the District County Clerk’s Office notifies pro se prisoners about the pilot program when they file. After filing, court staff attorneys screen the prisoners’ civil rights cases. As the court explains, screening eliminates about half of the lawsuits filed due to prisoners’ not stating a legal claim, suing the wrong party, or seeking damages from someone who is entitled to legal immunity. If a case makes it through this screening, prisoners are required to watch an orientation video about the program. They also receive a packet from the court that contains additional information about the program, as well as information on how to file a motion to be excluded from the program. After screening, prisoner civil rights suits are stayed for 90 days and then referred to mediation.

As the court expounds, prisoners who choose to participate in the mediation program will participate in mediation via video conferencing from prison. Meanwhile, the mediator, prison officials, and a state lawyer will interact with prisoners during mediation from the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit. If parties are able to reach a settlement during mediation, the parties’ agreement will be added to the record and the court will enter an order dismissing the case, but will retain jurisdiction to enforce the terms of agreement. If parties do not settle the case within 90 days, the case will proceed forward in the litigation process.

With respect to neutrals, the court notes that 40 lawyers who have completed Paul Monicatii’s mediator training curriculum will serve as the program’s mediators. These mediators will be participating in the program without compensation.

Those interested in learning more about the program may read more about it here or contact David Ashenfelter, Public Information Officer for the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan, at to obtain a copy of the press release.