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Alternative Dispute Resolution & Mediation in Appellate Courts

In response to the increasing number of appeals being filed in the 1970’s, settlement conferences were encouraged in appellate courts. However, settlement conferences had mixed results. In the 1990’s, appellate courts turned to mediation conferences to increase the number of settlements of civil cases on appeal. The underlying assumption of such settlement and mediation conferences has been that not all cases need full appellate review by the appellate court.

Which Cases Are Mediated on Appeal?

A trained mediator is given a summary of the case and the parties’ arguments. If the mediator decides that a case is appropriate for a mediation conference, the mediator schedules a meeting. Mediation conferences are generally mandatory, but attorneys can ask the court to excuse them from participation.

How Do Mediation Conferences Work?

In a mediation conference, the mediator facilitates negotiations between the parties’ attorneys. During the mediation conference, efforts are made to clarify the issues in the case and to set out the choices available to both parties. The mediator also tries to get the parties to revive any settlement offers. The goal is to produce a settlement, thereby reducing the time it takes for an appeal. Even if a settlement is not reached, some issues or disputed facts in the case may be clarified or resolved.

Which Appellate Courts Use Mediation Conferences?

Appellate courts in Arizona, California, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin use mediation conferences. All of the states and the District of Columbia have alternative dispute resolution or mediation programs available for litigants.

What Are the Benefits of Mediation?

Cases using mediation tend to settle faster, and more cases are settled before the appellate court is required to make a decision. Also, attorneys who participate in mediation conferences tend to respond favorably to mediation. Mediation conferences save litigants time and money.


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