Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mediating In The Dark!

Okay, not really in the dark – but what about mediating for a very, very, very long, long session – i.e. the “marathon mediation” [start early – stay late – keep the light on for you]? Have you ever had that experience or heard an anecdote about one? Here’s a criminal case with an interesting parallel and lessons for us.

The First District Court of Appeal in Green v. State, 32 Fla. L. Weekly D 691 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007), affirmed a jury’s guilty verdict in a case where at approximately 4:00p.m. defense counsel requested that the trial be adjourned and resumed the next day so that the jury would have enough time review all the evidence. The trial judge asked the jury what they wanted to do and they decided to work into the night [sound familiar?!?]. Two jurors had to go to work the next day. Closing arguments concluded at 9:20p.m. and the jury returned its verdicts shortly after midnight.

While the general proposition is that jury trials should not continue late into the evening, the appellate court affirmed the jury’s verdict because the trial judge had asked the jurors what they wanted to do, and the court repeatedly checked their mental state to make sure they could continue with their deliberations [excellent practice for mediators to keep in mind!].

This opinion is worth reading for other practice ideas as well.

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