Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mediating Colors – Black and White

Okay, not exactly – however, that seems to be the challenge in yet another governmental dispute. This one is between the Clerk of Court and the Escambia County Commission [wait a minute, doesn’t this sound familiar?] according to this article in the Pensacola News Journal. The chief deputy clerk pondered, “I don’t know how you can mediate a black-and-white issue.” And now, here comes the magic of mediation! “Music, maestro, please!”

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Monday, October 23, 2006

“Fishbowl Mediation”

Whoa! Wait a minute! According to this article in the Naples Daily News a long running power struggle between the Clerk of Court in Collier County, Florida and the Collier County Commissioners might be mediated [so far, so good]. The attorneys for Collier County have asked the Clerk of Courts to mediate in an effort to settle several lawsuits between the two government entities. [A good move!]

The Clerk agreed [another good move] but [and you know what that means] would do so on two conditions [here they come!]: [1] He wants the mediation sessions to be open to the public and [2] he wants all five county commissioners to take part in the mediation [Hmmm! What about the Government in the Sunshine Law?!?]. I know, that’s why condition number 1 is in play. However, Florida also has a Government in the Shade Law too [really; I’m not kidding here].

Florida requires governmental entities to conduct their business at meetings open to the public, i.e. “in the sunshine”. F. S. 286.011. However, the legislature created an exception to the sunshine law which permitted any governmental agency, its chief executive and attorney to meet in private [“Government in the Shade”] to discuss settlement negotiations or strategy. Take a look at F.S. 286.011(8) to see how confidentiality in mediation can be synchronized with Government in the Sunshine and the procedures to be followed.

After reading the article, what kind of protocols could be developed to address the concerns expressed by both sides [it can be done, you know]?

By the way, is what the Clerk of Courts suggesting really mediation or is it some other ADR process?

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Other Side Of The Coin

Here’s an article in The Oregonian about police officers in Hillsboro, Oregon training as mediators and here’s another article about types of disputes that police officers might mediate.

What’s in your wallet? Only kidding; I thought these were nice accompaniments to the earlier post about mediating complaints against police officers. Hmmm – maybe police officers trained as mediators will reduce the number of complaints filed against them by civilians [an unintended consequence – or not]!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction!”

With the exception of the title of their 1965 hit song, The Rolling Stones have nothing to do with this.

What if a civilian could get satisfaction in resolving a complaint against a law enforcement officer? In the early 1990’s, at a time when New York City was rife with police scandals, the Civilian Complaint Review Board was created so that accusations against police officers could be handled by an independent agency. Cases would be investigated and then sent to the full board, which would recommend punishment when wrongdoing was found.

Guess what alternative was included in the enabling law? You guessed it – mediation! One of the reasons for incorporating mediation was to give the civilian the chance to tell the officer why they were so upset with what the officer said or did and to provide the opportunity to the civilian to ask questions of the officer. [Sounds like a good idea to me!] There are criteria for the types of cases that are suitable for this program.

The New York Times has an excellent article [free subscription required – it’s worth it!] about the program which has drawn national and international attention.

How about something like this in your community?

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

“I’m Having A Really ‘Bad Hair’ Day!”

Picture this – you’re the mediator [ok, you knew that was coming]. During the mediation you discern that one of the parties is, well – stoned! What do you do? This is not as far fetched as you might think – take a look at this article in the New Jersey Law Journal [ok, it wasn’t a mediation but it could happen, right?!?].

One of the learning objectives in our training programs is to identify appropriate techniques for handling difficult situations [of which, I suggest, this would be one] or to identify appropriate courses of action when confronted with substance abuse during the mediation session [community resources and referrals, anyone?].

Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.420(b) Conduct of Mediation; Adjournment or Termination provides:

A mediator shall:

(1) adjourn the mediation upon agreement of the parties;

(2) adjourn or terminate any mediation which, if continued, would result in unreasonable emotional or monetary costs to the parties;

(3) adjourn or terminate the mediation if the mediator believes the case is unsuitable for mediation or any party is unable or unwilling to participate meaningfully in the process;

(4) terminate a mediation entailing fraud, duress, the absence of bargaining ability, or unconscionability; and

(5) terminate any mediation if the physical safety of any person is endangered by the continuation of mediation.

Which option would you choose? Would you do anything else? Who are you going to call – or not?!?

So, what if it’s not a party who presents the difficult situation [or substance abuse], but rather the party’s lawyer as was reported here on Court TV News? Here’s a clue as to the facts: “I don't think you can tell a straight story because you are intoxicated,” said the trial judge to the lawyer. [You can actually watch a video of the hearing and if you do, note the exceptional demeanor of the judge.]

Go figure!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dependency Mediation Certification Training

You might be interested in this! A Dependency Mediation Certification Training program is being offered by David A. Wolfson, Primary Trainer, from February 7 – 11, 2007 in Tallahassee, Florida.

The cost for the training is $975.00, but a special discount rate for early registration of $925.00 will apply until December 1, 2006.

Included with the training package [at no additional charge!] is the Dependency Module of Nutshell Mediation Office, a software program which, among other things, prepares all documentation necessary for dependency mediation.

If you have any questions about the program or to obtain registration information and a registration form, you can email David A. Wolfson by clicking here.

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.