Resources / Study / Innovation for Court ADR

Just Court ADR

The blog of Resolution Systems Institute

Author Archive

Two New RSI Special Topics Available

Susan M. Yates, December 21st, 2021

RSI is pleased to announce we have added two new Special Topics to our Resource Center. One is about Restorative Justice and its relationship to court ADR and the other is about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in court ADR. RSI develops Special Topics from time to time to respond to issues people who work with court ADR are facing. These latest Special Topics join others on subjects such as eviction mediation, online dispute resolution and child protection mediation.

Both these Special Topics were made possible by a grant from the American Arbitration Association – International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation. Thank you to the AAA-ICDR Foundation!

Support Your Neighbors This Holiday By Supporting RSI

Susan M. Yates, December 10th, 2021

Dear Friends,

As COVID-19 continues to ebb and flow unpredictably, many renters struggle to pay back rent and are facing housing insecurity. In turn, landlords, especially “mom and pop” landlords, are struggling to pay their mortgages and maintain their properties. Housing experts have been predicting a surge in eviction cases for over a year now, and that has begun to bear out in many places throughout the country. More than ever, courts are looking to mediation as a primary tool to help address these filings.

The expertise RSI has developed over more than 25 years of developing, operating and evaluating court mediation programs is now enabling us to play a vital role at the forefront of this crisis. Still, I have been at RSI since its inception, and I have never seen the pace and number of new court mediation programs we are developing, operating and evaluating.

In Illinois, which lifted its moratorium on eviction filings on October 3, RSI is: 

  • Mediating between tenants and landlords to avoid eviction where possible
  • Helping tenants and landlords obtain rental relief
  • Directing tenants and landlords without lawyers to legal information

Nationally, RSI is:

  • Sharing information on best practices in eviction mediation
  • Providing courts with samples of court rules, forms, brochures, etc.
  • Conducting an implementation study to guide courts in establishing eviction mediation programs
  • Preparing to conduct robust evaluations of eviction mediation programs

Our eviction mediation work is a good example of what RSI is all about. We help courts and their community partners operate ADR systems that are fair, effective and accessible to all – particularly those cases in which one or both parties do not have lawyers.

Please join in me in making a contribution to RSI. You can click here or send your check to RSI at 11 East Adams Street, Suite 500, Chicago, Illinois, 60603. RSI is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, and your donation is tax-deductible as provided by law.

With sincere thanks,

Susan M. Yates
RSI Executive Director

Q&A Highlights Importance of RSI/UC Davis Research on Procedural Justice in ODR

Susan M. Yates, June 28th, 2021

The Pew Charitable Trusts has published a Q&A with Professor Donna Shestowsky of the UC Davis School of Law about the empirical study of online dispute resolution (ODR) that the law school and Resolution Systems Institute are conducting, which looks at court ODR programs in Michigan and Texas. The Q&A explores procedural justice, an integral element of the study.

RSI’s Director of Research, Jennifer Shack, and Professor Shestowsky are working with the Pew Charitable Trusts to evaluate online platforms that courts are using to assist parties in engaging in mediation and negotiation. RSI and UC Davis are one of three research teams involved in a larger project initiated by Pew to empirically study issues surrounding the provision of ODR by courts and its effects.

While these platforms could offer benefits, such as eliminating the need for some parties to appear in person for a trial, the study looks at possible drawbacks as well. In addition to procedural justice, the study also looks at other questions, such as whether ODR reduces the time and stress on parties and courts; affects case outcomes; and improves litigants’ use of court procedures and navigation of court rules.

For more on how courts are using ODR, visit RSI’s Special Topic on Online Dispute Resolution.

Resolution Systems Institute Prepares for Wave of Evictions

Susan M. Yates, May 4th, 2021

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 of Dispute Resolution Foundation. The AAA-ICDR’s grant is enabling RSI to expand our outreach to other court ADR colleagues working in the fast-evolving eviction field, and we are tremendously grateful to the Foundation for their support.

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, a new kind of wave is being predicted – a wave of evictions. So far, a patchwork of federal, state and local eviction moratoria has kept the eviction tsunami from breaking on the shore. But as these moratoria are lifted (as they already have been in some places), millions will be at increased risk of COVID-19 from homelessness or from having to double up housing with friends and family.

RSI is on the front lines of utilizing ADR to address the coming evictions crisis and we are tackling it from several directions. First, we will be launching an Eviction Mediation Program next month in Kane County, Illinois, which encompasses Illinois’ second- and eighth-largest cities, Aurora and Elgin, respectively. Our program will look to connect participants with rental relief and legal assistance before trying to help them come to an agreement using trained third-party mediators. 

Second, we are reaching out to courts in more than 35 counties in central and northern Illinois to offer assistance designing and developing eviction mediation programs. While the moratoria are still in place, this is the time to design mediation programs that meet local needs, leverage local strengths, and bring together all necessary resources. 

Third, to further advance our mission of strengthening access to justice through court ADR, we will in the coming months roll out a series of resources on utilizing ADR to address the national spike in evictions. These resources will include sample forms and documents courts can utilize in their own programs, guidance on setting up these programs, and information on how others have utilized ADR to manage eviction cases.

Now is the window of opportunity to prepare well thought-out mediation programs that provide procedural justice and a chance for landlords and tenants to reach a solution that is workable — and safe — for all parties. Our work in this arena is being generously supported by the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation and the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation. If you would like to support us in guiding courts on the use of ADR in combating evictions, please consider making a donation to RSI.

RSI Receives Eviction Mediation Grant

Susan M. Yates, March 29th, 2021

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation recently awarded RSI a grant of more than $30,000 to help support RSI’s eviction mediation program in Kane County, Illinois, and our outreach to 14 Illinois judicial circuits, encompassing 39 counties, in central and northern Illinois. For both aspects of this grant, RSI will draw on our decades of experience designing and evaluating court mediation programs.

RSI has been working closely with the court and stakeholders in Kane County since last year in preparation for an expected influx of eviction cases when moratoriums expire. During the grant period, which runs from March 15, 2021 through June 30, 2021, we will reach out to other courts about their interest in eviction mediation, and offer technical assistance to help design programs as needed. 

If you live or work in a northern or central Illinois county and are interested in eviction mediation in your community, please reach out to RSI at info@aboutRSI.org