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Susan Yates Joins Grants Committee of the AAA-ICDR Foundation

Just Court ADR, May 23rd, 2019

RSI’s Executive Director Susan Yates has joined the Grants Committee of the American Arbitration Association International Center for Dispute Resolution Foundation (AAA-ICDR).

The AAA-ICDR Foundation’s purpose is to fund critical projects, domestically and internationally. This effort fills important needs in the ADR community by expanding the use of alternative dispute resolution, improving the process, increasing access to ADR for those who cannot afford it, and sharing knowledge across different cultures.

Introducing RSI’s Special Topic on Online Dispute Resolution!

Eric Slepak-Cherney, April 26th, 2019

We are excited to introduce our new Special Topic on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)! With courts across the country exploring ODR at a rapid pace, we sought to develop a resource that would help provide thoughtful context and guidance on how court administrators and stakeholders should approach the intersection of technology and dispute resolution. Containing a history of ODR, considerations for courts and links to other helpful resources, we hope you will find this new content enlightening and will excite you for the future of delivering justice through online dispute resolution.

RSI’s Susan Yates and Jennifer Shack Attend ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference

Just Court ADR, April 25th, 2019

This month, Executive Director Susan Yates and Director of Research Jennifer Shack headed to Minneapolis for the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Conference. At the Conference, Jen presented on what her evaluations of child protection mediation programs in Chicago and Washington, DC, can tell other courts about how to design programs that are effective, efficient, and attend to the needs of all mediation participants. Jen and Susan also hosted a court ADR resource share during the conference.

For both, the highlight of the conference was the Court ADR Symposium. From the opening plenary to the individual sessions, the information was both interesting and in-depth.

New Jersey Legislature Tackles State’s High Foreclosure Rate

Nicole Wilmet, March 21st, 2019

Despite employing a number of practices in response to the mortgage crisis in 2008, New Jersey has had one of the highest foreclosure rates among all states since 2015. In a continued effort to address this issue, New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner established a Special Committee on Residential Foreclosures in 2017 to review current practices, policies, court rules and legislation and develop suggestions for reform. Last year, the Committee released its report, which summarizes the history and current state of foreclosure in New Jersey and includes recommendations for reform. Towards the end of their report, the Committee notes that not only do unresolved foreclosures lead to thousands of cases remaining on court dockets, but they also depress property values, burden municipalities and reduce tax revenues.

Building on the recommendations from the Committee, the New Jersey legislature is currently considering a ten-bill package that would reform the residential mortgage foreclosure process. Introduced at the end of January, this package of ten bills seeks to expedite the foreclosure process, decrease the amount of time foreclosed properties remain on the market, and make the foreclosure mediation program permanent. The following chart summaries each bill being considered.

Bill Number

Summary

S3411

Recommends revising the Fair Foreclosure Act (“FFA”) to require that notices of intention to foreclose are filed at least 30 days (but no more than 180 days) before foreclosure commences. Additionally, the bill also requires that these notices also include a notice to homeowners that they are entitled to housing counseling through the Foreclosure Mediation Program.

S3412

Requires the Department of Community Affairs to create a database with an interactive map that details the foreclosed properties in the state. To fund this database, this bill also establishes a $30 fee that would be collected when deeds are recorded.

S3413

Modifies the foreclosure process to expand the definition of what constitutes a vacant and abandoned property and requires that sales of foreclosed properties occur within 60 days of a foreclosure judgment.

S3414

Allows all common interest community associations to record liens for unpaid assessments.

S3415

Requires creditors and their in-state agents to file their contact information with the Superior Court.

S3416

Clarifies that the New Jersey Residential Mortgage Lending Act also applies to any out-of-state person involved in residential mortgage lending in the state.

S3417

Requires anyone acting as a mortgage servicer to obtain a license from the state Department of Baking and Insurance.

S3418

Reduces the statute of limitations for residential mortgage foreclosure actions under the FFA from 20 years to six years from the date on which the homeowner defaulted.

S3464

Focuses on expediting residential mortgage foreclosure proceedings. Under this bill, sheriffs would be required to conduct foreclosure sales within 120 days of receiving orders to foreclose.

S1244

Codifies the Foreclosure Mediation Program and makes several adjustments to the program. These changes include notifying homeowners about the program when they receive their intent to foreclose and again when a mortgage foreclosure complaint has been filed against a property. The bill also requires that these written notices must be available in both English and Spanish.

Although these bills have several more hurdles to pass before becoming law, their introduction indicates cooperation among the executive, legislative and judicial branches during the state’s foreclosure reformation.

My Favorite Resource Featuring Sally Campbell

Nicole Wilmet, January 30th, 2019

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 Sally Campbell, Dispute Resolution Services Manager for the Supreme Court of Virginia, to learn about her favorite resource. 

NW: What is one of your favorite ADR resources? 

SC: Aside from RSI, always a favorite resource, my favorite ADR resource tends to be what is helping me most at the moment. Appellate Mediation: A Guidebook for Attorneys and Mediators, an ABA publication written by experienced appellate mediators Brendon Ishikawa and Dana Curtis, tops my list right now.   

NW: Why do you value this particular resource? 

SC: Appellate Mediation contains a wealth of information for any mediator, whether newly minted or appellate veteran. I still marvel at this book’s promotion of a facilitative process with a client-centered, problem-solving approach – not what I expected when I first opened it. The book divides into five sections. The first, “Fundamentals of Appeals,” tackles appellate law basics, case evaluation, and decision tree risk analysis for case evaluation. The second, “The Appellate Mediation Process,” covers each phase of the mediation, with headings varying from “Explanation of the roles of the Mediator and Participants” and “People Get Angry; It’s Okay,” to “Brainstorm for as Many Options as Possible – Especially Options with Asymmetric Gains.” The “Practice Tips for Appellate Attorneys” section focuses on preparing attorneys and clients for mediation; strategies for the sessions; and crafting an enforceable agreement. “Practice Tips for Appellate Mediators” delivers excellent, detailed guidance for mediators.   

Finally, the Appendix packs a punch with great resources for appellate mediators, like sample phone call dialogue and sample documents. Appellate Mediation is eminently accessible with a user-friendly design that makes it easy to find specific information. The authors even include a chapter on mediator professional development. That chapter’s attention to the reflective practice process generated an a-ha! moment, and facilitated our goal to design the Mediator Self-Reflection Treasury to guide and support mediators even in solitary, first-time self-reflection.  

NW: How did you first learn about this resource?  

SC: In 2018, the Supreme Court of Virginia approved appellate mediation pilot projects to run for two years in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of Virginia. I found this book while looking for resources to assist in the training of appellate mediators. It fit the bill so well that the trainer used it in the basic mediation course.  

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

SC: For newer, non-appellate mediators, I would recommend Chapter 14 (“Phase 2, Information Exchange, and Phase 3, Identifying and Organizing the Issues”), although there is so much to be gleaned elsewhere in the book, I wouldn’t stop there. For seasoned mediators, I’d recommend Chapters 2 and 3, that address case evaluation as in “What is my best presently available option?” and case valuation through decision tree analysis. In this well-written, accessible book, these chapter materials aren’t nearly as daunting as they sound.     

This book might top my list for a long time to come. 

If you have a favorite resource you would like to share in an upcoming edition of our newsletter and our blog, please reach out to our Resource Center Director Nicole Wilmet at nwilmet@aboutrsi.org.