Friday, December 22, 2006

Mediation Without Borders

Here’s a splendid letter from Ken Cloke and Robert Creo to all Mediators!

“We are thrilled to announce the creation of Mediators Without Borders (MWOB). MWOB is a non-profit provider of pro bono conflict resolution capacity building within post-conflict communities.

A key goal of MWOB is to develop indigenous skills for group facilitation, public dialogue, strategic planning, collaborative negotiation, and peer mediation.

The concept is for teams of volunteer mediators to conduct skill-building workshops consistent with the norms, values, and culture of the locale.

The Mission is to increase the capacity of hostile communities to prevent, resolve, and recover from violent conflict. An array of conflict alternatives can be explored by strategic integration into the political, economic, and social institutions. The same team would volunteer for between 1 – 3 weeks per year, over a number of years in the same country, to build sustainable initiatives and to develop local peacemakers and peacekeepers.

The current business model is to partner with existing NGO’s and ADR entities to provide experienced mediators as trainers and consultants to complement and expand the conflict resolution capacity of already funded peace projects.

Ken Cloke is the key founder and leader of Mediators Without Borders. He has assembled a dedicated team of mediators to implement this vision of MWOB.

The entity has been legally established and is being housed in Pittsburgh with office space and other support donated by Bob Creo, one of the incorporators of MWOB.

MWOB needs funds for staffing and administrative overhead to effectively implement the MWOB mission. There is an administrative plan to share the services of Ms. Anjali Soi, Executive Director of Mesites Foundation, also headquartered in Pittsburgh, with MWOB and hire a part-time administrative assistant.

The business plan provides for an annual administrative budget for cash flow purposes estimated at a modest $3,000 per month in the first year of operation. We expect to be filing for grants for the 2007 – 2008 grant cycle, but need to raise funds from the mediation community to implement an effective infrastructure. Ken and Bob, together with the Steering Committee of: Nan Walker Burnett, Lynn H. Cole, Sandi DiMola, Helen Dekovachich, Richard DeWitt, Erica Ariel Fox, Joan Goldsmith, C.J. Larkin, and Rachel Wohl, seek your participation as a Charter Mediator Member of MWOB.

This requires an annual dues commitment of at least $1 per day for an initial two year pledge period.

Only Member Mediators are permitted to volunteer to intervene abroad in specific projects. Over the next several months, we will be creating the web site, which will provide updated information as this project rapidly moves forward. We also seek networking assistance from the Mediator Members to identify potential partners, projects, and indigenous peacekeepers.

Please consider becoming a Mediator Member of a Supportor by completing the Dues Pledge Form on the web page link . . . and returning it with payment promptly.

Please feel free to contact any of the Steering Committee or Anjali Soi at or 412.441.1151 for additional information.

Please pass this letter and information onto any other interested mediators. I hope you can join us on this exciting and worthwhile endeavor.

Ken Cloke, and Bob Creo,

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nat Fein – Mediator!

Who?!? This 1949 Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of Babe Ruth [“Babe Bows Out” taken June 13, 1948] is a fabulous picture – why – because it was taken from the back instead of from the front like thousands of other pictures! The photographer, Nat Fein, thought outside the box – thought and saw differently than others – i.e. from different angles [well, he could have been a mediator – don’t you think?].

According to this article in The National Law Journal, civil actions ending in creative settlements that do more than put money into the pockets of plaintiffs and their lawyers are unusual BUT [and you know what that means] they are increasing – try charitable donations, tax breaks, defendants instituting safety programs, apologies – just to name a few imaginative ideas for settlements. Hey, how about that?!!? The power of self-determination – simply amazing!

It’s not always just about the money! Really – it’s not!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Monday, December 18, 2006

“Go Directly To Jail; Do Not Pass Go; Do Not Collect $200.00!”

What does The Monopoly Game have to do with mediation? Nothing actually, although the case of Higgins v. Higgins, 2006 Fla. App. LEXIS 20867 [Fla. 2nd DCA 2006] is illustrative of the relationship between being jailed by a trial judge who later orders the same party to mediation [on the very same day, no less]!

The former wife in this post divorce case was held in direct criminal contempt of court during a hearing, summarily sentenced to jail for 6 months, actually jailed and then returned to court later the same day when the same judge ordered her and her former husband to mediation in the office of the court mediation program. Any problems that you see so far?

Okay, how about prior to ordering the parties [who were pro se] to mediation the judge had announced to the former wife that her attempt to relocate with the parties’ minor child was barred by court order [which it wasn’t] and unlawful and that was one of the reasons for the contempt conviction? It’s not getting better, is it?!?

As a result of the mediation, the parties signed a document entitled “Order” as did the “Mediator[,] Preparer of Order of Court.” [Mediators as “Guardians of the Process” - o.k.; mediators as “Agents of Reality” - o.k.; but mediators as “Preparers of Order of Court” - not o.k.] This order transferred custody of the minor child from the mother to the father. You guessed it, the former wife/mother appealed the order of contempt and the order modifying custody.

How significant were the “highly coercive circumstances”, devised by the trial judge, to the appellate court which reversed the trial judge. The wheels of justice don’t move so quickly [what else is new?!?] – the hearing was held in January, 2006 and this appellate decision was issued in December, 2006.

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

“Good Luck” Mediation

Whaaat?!!?? Well, according to this article in the Livingston Daily Press and Argus, a trial judge is alleged to have prevented lawyers in a divorce case from selecting their own mediator because the judge “was not having good luck” with the named mediator. Hmmmm!!! There’s more too and you’ll have to read the article. If the allegations are true, isn’t this outrageous?!? What about party self-determination for starters? Anyway, you be the judge [or not]!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.