Dispute Resolution Section of the Supreme Court of Ohio

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Contents

[edit] General Information

  • Official name: Dispute Resolution Section of the Supreme Court of Ohio
  • Country: USA
  • City: Ohio
  • Type of organization: Non-profit organization
  • Date of creation: 1989
  • Interests: Mediation - Training
  • Fields of expertise: Judicial Disputes

[edit] Overview

The Dispute Resolution Section assists courts in developing and sustaining high-quality dispute resolution services that are accessible to all citizens; provides technical assistance and training to court-connected dispute resolution staff, judges, magistrates, mediators, parenting coordinators, court personnel, attorneys and other professionals; and communicates ongoing research regarding innovative dispute resolution processes and resources.

[edit] Vision

Court-connected dispute resolution services, particularly mediation, should be accessible to the citizens of Ohio at no cost to parties. All dispute resolution services should maintain public confidence in the judicial system by handling disputes fairly and with impartiality. Dispute resolution services should preserve citizens' rights and offer the opportunity for parties to resolve their disputes quickly and economically. Courts should utilize community-based dispute resolution services where possible. Courts should evaluate services provided to monitor for quality and participant satisfaction.

[edit] Services

In 1991, the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution recommended the active development of dispute resolution programs for Ohio's courts. The Supreme Court adopted the committee's recommendations and created a special office within the Court. To date, the Dispute Resolution Section has helped establish mediation programs in more than 50 courts and has provided training for hundreds of mediators and attorneys.

Through services it provides, the section helps courts achieve the following goals:

  • Efficient utilization of court resources. Dispute resolution programs offer high-quality services without penalties or inconvenience to citizens and aid in achieving docket reduction.
  • Sustained public funding. Supported primarily by public funds, court-connected programs provide services at little or no cost to citizens.
  • Public confidence. Programs maintain public confidence by handling disputes with fairness, impartiality and confidentiality.
  • Protection of citizens' rights. Programs protect rights to trial and full, complete and fair hearings in court.
  • Utilization of community resources. Courts utilize community-based dispute resolution programs.
  • Continuous improvement. Evaluations of party satisfaction and perceptions of fairness guide program improvement and assure quality.

[edit] Program Development and Assistance

The Dispute Resolution Section staff consults with Ohio's trial and appellate courts at no cost to the courts. Services include:

  • Assistance with mediation program planning and design
  • Help in developing local mediation rules, forms and procedures
  • Training about the mediation process and appropriate procedures for mediators, courts, local attorneys and other stakeholders
  • Networking and mentoring assistance for program staff
  • Program-specific consultation regarding the following:
  • Civil Mediation for Common Pleas Courts
  • Parenting Mediation for Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts
  • Child Protection Mediation for Juvenile Courts
  • Delinquency and Status Offender Programs for Juvenile Courts
  • Truancy Prevention through Mediation
  • Victim Offender Mediation
  • Small Claims and General Civil Mediation for Municipal and County Courts
  • Mediation for Intermediate Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Ohio

[edit] Court-Connected Mediation in Ohio

The Supreme Court of Ohio began to explore mediation as a court service in 1989. The Court accepted recommendations from the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution in 1991. These recommendations included continuation of the Circuit Rider Project (1990) and establishing the Office of Dispute Resolution Programs (1992), now known as the Dispute Resolution Section. The Circuit Rider Project helped six municipal courts develop volunteer-staffed mediation programs during an 18-month period. These courts then continued to provide free, pre-filing mediation in small claims and misdemeanor cases. Based on the model developed in the Circuit Rider Project, 18 more municipal courts have added volunteer-staffed mediation programs. Many offer mediation as a free, pre-filing court service. Others choose to set a mediation date between the filing and court hearing and some offer mediation on the day of trial. Following a successful three-county pilot project to test the feasibility of court-staffed mediation services, the Court began offering start-up grants to courts in 1997, enabling them to hire a full-time staff mediator/mediation coordinator and clerical support person. These grants, to courts of general jurisdiction (common pleas courts), have funded an additional 37 mediation programs, servicing 46 counties. Once courts have demonstrated success of the mediation program, most are able to obtain permanent funding through local funding authorities. Courts may also collect an additional filing fee to create a mediation fund. A few charge nominal user fees. The Court intends to make court-staffed mediation available at little or no cost to litigants in every county by the end of 2005.

Early court-connected mediation initiatives also included Settlement Week or Settlement Day. These are specially designated times during the year when cases are mediated on an expedited basis. Volunteer mediators have also played an important role in augmenting juvenile court mediation programs. Staff mediators and volunteers help resolve status and delinquency cases at the courts, at community mediation centers, and at schools. Juvenile courts also offer other ADR processes such as family group conferencing, victim-offender mediation and teen courts.

The Court has collaborated with the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management to provide funding and training for Truancy Prevention through Mediation projects. Court mediators go to elementary schools to mediate issues surrounding absenteeism with parents and teachers of children in kindergarten through sixth grade. A preliminary evaluation of three of these programs indicates they are cost-effective and valuable resources for improving school attendance and providing early identification of at-risk youth. A model for middle schools is being developed as well.

Divorce mediation is available at many courts and may include mediation of parenting issues only or property and financial issues as well. Services may be provided by staff at the court or through the use of roster mediators. Parenting issues are also mediated in many juvenile courts. In further support of parenting services, the Court has provided small parent education grants to support the development of education courses for parents. These mandatory courses educate parents about the impact of divorce on their children and provide information about mediation and other available services. Several courts now offer additional programs to provide sessions for children, for children and parents together and specialized courses to deal with issues of blended families and never-married parents.

Child Protection Mediation, Adult Guardianship Mediation and Juvenile Court Domestic Violence Mediation Conferences for offenders and their families are specialized areas that have received support through a variety of grants. Currently, a number of courts offer mediation of abuse, neglect and dependency cases and those in which termination of parental rights cases is at issue. Adult Guardianship Mediation has been well received in a small number of counties. The model used to develop these programs was developed by the Center for Social Gerontology in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Two counties offer Juvenile Court Domestic Violence Mediation Conferencing. This service provides mediation and other interventions to reduce out of home placements for youth charged in such offenses. A critical component of these programs is to build capacity of all family members to make use of non-violent alternatives.

Five of its most effective mediation programs are located at its intermediate courts of appeals. Staff mediators select and mediate a variety of civil cases, including workers' compensation cases. DRS also has a staff mediator at the Supreme Court who mediates tax appeals and original actions. Original actions include public records mandamus cases and other mandamus actions. Mediation resolves more than 60 percent of cases referred to mediation in the appellate programs.

[edit] Contact

Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution, Supreme Court of Ohio. 65 South Front Street, 6th Floor Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431 - USA

Tel: 614.387.9355

Email: Jacqueline.Hagerott@sc.ohio.gov

Official Website

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