Monday, December 20, 2004

What is a Neutral and Impartial Third Person? A Mediation Lesson Learned from a Criminal Case.

First, some essentials:

Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators Rule 10.210 Mediation Defined states, in part:

Mediation is a process whereby a neutral and impartial third person acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute without prescribing what it should be. [Emphasis added.]

Rule 10.330 Impartiality, [a] Generally, provides that “A mediator shall maintain impartiality throughout the mediation process”. The Committee Note to this Rule explains further that

During the mediation, a mediator shall maintain impartiality even while raising questions regarding the reality, fairness, equity, durability and feasibility of proposed options for settlement. In the event circumstances arise during a mediation that would reasonably be construed to impair or compromise a mediator’s impartiality, the mediator is obligated to withdraw.
We can learn a practical lesson about neutrality and impartiality by reading the 5th District Court of Appeal case Sears v. State of Florida, 2004 Fla. App. LEXIS 19327 [Fla. 5th DCA 2004] to draw a parallel between our obligations as mediators and those of a judge in the same ethical context. Mediators, just like judges, must scrupulously adhere to these ethical standards, otherwise. . .

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