Sunday, October 08, 2006

“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!

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