Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Vickie Pynchon has a fun post up on the Forbes website about Dennis Kucinich’s suit against the Congressional cafeteria for breaking a tooth on an errant olive pit found in his sandwich.  Her post got me thinking about how mediation deals with so-called “frivolous” lawsuits.  To start with, I represent enough plaintiffs to have a bit of a problem with the term “frivolous lawsuit.”  If a case is obviously frivolous on its face, any judge would immediately see that, and would dismiss the case.  So an obviously frivolous case shouldn’t cause enough problems to be worth complaining about.  By definition, then, the kinds of frivolous lawsuits that people complain about are those that have enough potential merit to survive a […]

Some mediators I was meeting with this morning expressed trepidation about the new TV series Fairly Legal.  (See my prior post on the announcement of this series over a year ago.)  We were all curious to see it, but worried about such questions as whether mediators in real life can live up to the glamorous image of a TV mediator.  We also wondered whether the show will give people the wrong idea about mediation.  And the question I found most interesting, how will a show about mediation–which aims to reduce and resolve conflict–be able to show the conflict and drama so necessary for television?  Having just watched the premiere, I came away fairly impressed with the way the show dealt […]

Last week the California Supreme Court decided the Cassel case, reversing a decision of the Court of Appeal which had carved out an exception to mediation confidentiality.  The exception applied to certain communications between a party participating in a mediation and his own attorney, which the party subsequently sought to use in support of a malpractice claim against that attorney.  In a previous post on this topic, I argued that while questionable as statutory interpretation, such an exception should not unduly threaten the general principle of mediation confidentiality.  The Supreme Court’s opinion states that it understood the policy concerns that arise from shielding evidence of potential malpractice claims from scrutiny.  Nevertheless, the Court held that the plain language of the […]

Each time we are forced to deal with another attempted or successful political assassination or other violent act, we react in a slightly different way, depending on the political concerns of the moment.  Some past incidents have sparked calls for stricter gun controls.  Sometimes we have heard cries for more law and order.  You used to hear people blame overly permissive child-rearing practices for violent or disruptive behavior.  Sometimes violence has been explained as the result of injustice or prejudice in society.  This time, in the wake of the attempted Giffords assassination, we have heard a lot of talk identifying the high level of violent rhetoric among politicians and the media as a source of the problem. Attempts to draw […]

In The Eumenides, Athena abolished the revenge cycle because that ancient justice system contained fundamental flaws that made it unsuitable for an enlightened democratic state.  Revenge does not achieve finality; it perpetuates violence; and it is mechanical and deterministic, thus denying free will.  In its place, Athena set up a new system that was supposed to be based on wisdom, truth, and rationality.  It continues to serve us well in many cases, but after more than 2000 years of our experiment with this more enlightened justice system, it might be time to ask whether it has finally has outlived its usefulness.  At the very least, we can probably all agree that our system of justice could stand some improvements. We […]