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Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals to Launch Appellate Mediation Program

Nicole Wilmet, February 27th, 2020

Ohio’s Fifth District Court of Appeals will be launching an appellate mediation program. The Fifth District Court is the largest appellate court in Ohio and serves the Ashland, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Guernsey, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Richland, Stark and Tuscarawas counties. Recent news about the appellate mediation program reports that the program will be voluntary and limited to civil cases. The program is expected to launch by spring 2020.

According to the Court’s announcement about the program, the Court is currently in the process of drafting a local mediation rule. Once drafted, the proposed rule will be published on the Court’s website with a request for comment from the public and legal community. Recent news reports that once published, the rule will be available for comment for 30 days. The Court has selected Aletha Carver to serve as the Court’s mediator. Those interested in additional information about the program should please contact Ms. Carver at amcarver@starkcountyohio.gov.

My Favorite Resource Featuring Howard Herman

Nicole Wilmet, February 4th, 2020

Our series My Favorite Resource, features interviews with ADR friends across the country to learn about their favorite resources. This month, I spoke with Howard Herman, Director of the ADR Program for the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, to learn about his favorite ADR resource.

NW: What is one of your favorite ADR resources?

HH: One of my favorite resources is the book Bringing Peace Into the Room, edited by Daniel Bowling and David Hoffman.

NW: Why do you value this particular resource?

HH:  The book is particularly valuable because it consists of a series of short, approachable essays concerning the qualities that make a truly effective mediator. The book links theory to practice in a direct, easily understandable way. Rather than prescriptions about what all mediators should do, the book provides a set of examples of practitioners authentically developing their own approaches grounded in their awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses. I was particularly moved by the essay “Tears” by David Hoffman, which helped me change my approach to the emotions I feel when I’m mediating.

NW: How did you first learn about this resource?

HH:  I first became aware of this book right when it came out – back in 2003 – but it remains every bit as relevant today.

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

HH: A particular feature, not to be missed, is the inclusion of stimulating and challenging reflective practice questions at the conclusion of each essay. For the past 15+ years, I’ve led reflective practice groups for the mediators on the panel of the Northern District of California. The questions raised by Bringing Peace Into the Room continue to guide many of the discussions we have each month as mediators examine their cases in an effort to improve their practices.

Illinois’ Third Judicial Circuit Launches Pilot Family Law Mediation Program for Pro Se Litigants

Nicole Wilmet, January 31st, 2020

In November, Illinois’ Third Judicial Circuit announced its receipt of a grant from the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice. The grant’s funds have allowed the Circuit to create a pilot family law mediation program for divorce and family cases that involve two self-represented litigants. Angela Wille, the Circuit’s Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator, is managing the grant along with Associate Judge Maureen Schutte, Supervising Judge of the Family Division.

In the announcement, Chief Judge William A. Mudge said, “this is a great opportunity for families in Madison County to meet with a certified, neutral third-party mediator and attempt to reach a mutual agreement regarding issues pertaining to their children and/or their property.”

The court began referring cases to the program in December 2019.

My Favorite Resource: A Year in Review

Nicole Wilmet, December 20th, 2019

It’s hard to believe that another year of My Favorite Resource has gone by! Much like last year, I have had such a wonderful time connecting with ADR friends across the country to learn about a wide variety of helpful and informative resources. In the spirit of sharing and reminiscing, I thought what better way to get the season started than by revisiting with all the My Favorite Resource readers all the wonderful resources from this year! Sit back, grab a cup of cocoa, and let’s begin!

  • In January,Sally Campbell, the Dispute Resolution Services Manager for the Supreme Court of Virginia, who shared about Appellate Mediation: A Guidebook for Attorneys and Mediators.
  • In February, Tom Valenti, dispute resolution professional and founder of Valenti Law, shared that his favorite resource is the Kluwer Mediation Blog.
  • In March, Tracy Johnson, the Executive Director at the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution, shared that one of her favorite resources is the network of colleagues she has developed through the Georgia Council of Court Administrators.
  • In April, Robyn Weinstein, ADR Administrator at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, shared her love of the New York City Dispute Resolution Listserv.
  • In May, Christine Poulson, Executive Director at Resolution Virginia, shared that her favorite resource is the National Association for Community Mediation’s (NAFCM) email listserv.
  • In June, Sharon Sturges, Director of the Colorado Judicial branch Office of Dispute Resolution, shared about the National Center for State Courts website and publications.
  • In July, D.G. Mawn, NAFCM, shared his love of NAFCM’s On Demand webinars.
  • In September, James Alfini, RSI Board Member and Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law, shared that his favorite resource is the Center for Judicial Ethics at the National Center for State Courts.
  • In October, Alyson Carrel, RSI Board Member and Clinical Associate Professor and Assistant Director of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Center on Negotiation and Mediation, shared that her favorite ADR resource is the Dispute Resolution Resources for Legal Educators section of the University of Missouri Law School’s Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution website.
  • In November, Cassie Lively, Executive Director at the Center for Conflict Resolution, shared about NAFCM’s Virtual Library.

Last, but not least, I thought I would share my favorite resource to cap of the year. One of my favorite ADR resources from this year has been The Little Book of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr. I have been passionate about restorative justice for a few years and I first came across this resource shortly before I completed circle training this year. I value this resource because I think it is a tremendous guide for anyone interested in restorative justice that provides a nice overview of the principles and goals of restorative practice. As a somewhat novice to this subject when I picked up this resource, I felt that Zehr’s book deepened my understanding of the basics and theory behind restorative justice. For those unfamiliar with this resource, I would recommend reviewing Zehr’s definition of restorative justice (pg. 37), as well as his list of what restorative justice is not (pgs. 8-13).

Thank you again to each of the participants in this year’s series! To the readers of My Favorite Resource, I hope this year’s haul of resources leads you to discover your new favorite resource!

If you are interested in sharing a resource in 2020, please contact me at nwilmet@aboutrsi.org.

A Look Back on 2019

Nicole Wilmet, December 18th, 2019

I cannot believe we are already in the last month of this decade! What a wonderful and full year 2019 has been here at RSI. From court program evaluations to trainings and conferences, we have had a very exciting year and continued to make great strides in serving communities with court alternative dispute resolution! As RSI’s Resource Center Director and Court ADR Connection Editor, I have had the pleasure of sharing each exciting moment with you this year. To culminate 2019, I am looking back on all of RSI’s monumental moments this year.

This year, our Resource Center continued to provide a wealth of court ADR information and we expanded our Research Library with a plethora of new resources, including:

We also celebrated growth and several important milestones this year. In February, Alyson Carrel, Clinical Associate Professor and Assistant Director of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Center on Negotiation and Mediation, joined our Board of Directors. In March, Jennifer Shack celebrated 20 years at RSI! In May, RSI was honored with the Association of Family and Conciliation Court’s Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award, which recognizes innovation in court-connected or court-related programs! In August, the Honorable Nancy Katz (ret.), who works with JAMS as a mediator and an arbitrator, joined our Board of Directors. Last, but not least, this month, our program coordinators Olga Ivari and Kevin Malone celebrated six years at RSI! Olga is the Program Coordinator for our Lake County Foreclosure Mediation Program and Kevin is the Program Manager for both our Kane County Foreclosure Mediation Program and Child Protection Mediation Program.

This year, our organization continued to explore ways to serve the court ADR community. Under a planning grant from the Family and Interpersonal Resilience and Safety Transformation (FIRST) Fund, we spent time this year studying the current landscape of intimate partner violence (IPV) screening tools. To support this research, in June, RSI convened a summit of experts in mediation, family law and intimate partner violence (IPV) to help us explore whether an online tool (such as a website or an app) could improve the frequency and quality of mediator screening for IPV prior to mediation. The result of our research and findings are summarized in our report, Considering an Online Pre-Mediation Tool to Screen for Intimate Partner Violence: Findings & Blueprint, which explores the gap between “best practices” and reality when it comes to mediators screening for IPV and discusses how technology may help address these deficits.

Executive Director Susan Yates and Director of Research Jen Shack also did a bit of traveling this year, attending and presenting at conferences and seminars across the U.S. In April, Susan and Jen headed to Minneapolis for the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference. While there, Jen presented on what her evaluations of child protection mediation programs in Chicago and Washington, D.C. can tell other courts about how to design programs that are effective, efficient and address the needs of all mediation participants. In October, Susan conducted a series of three seminars on “Building Your Court’s Civil ADR System” at New Mexico’s statewide ADR conference in Santa Fe. In November, Susan and Jen also attended the 2019 International Online Dispute Resolution Form. While there, Jen presented on what factors should be examined when evaluating litigants’ experience of online dispute resolution. If you are interested in learning about how RSI can work with your court program in 2020, send a message to our staff!

Phew! Who knew so much could happen in one year?! As December (and this decade!) nears its close, I know that each of us here at RSI are thankful for a wonderful 2019. We look forward to all that awaits in 2019!