Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Judge Martin J. Sheehan of the Kenton Circuit Court, Kentucky, penned this ode to the joys of resolving an apparently acrimonious and well-litigated case. I wonder if the clerk actually has to take seriously the part of the order that requires him to engage the services of a structural engineer to make sure his office is able to hold the case file. After all, it is a court order. (Clicking on images below should work to enlarge them. If not, go here.)    

One of the reports I was reading about the Norway shooting incident this past weekend mentioned the difficulties police have in trying to prevent such violent events. In the past, it might have been easier to infiltrate and keep tabs on hate groups because they used more traditional means of organizing themselves. Now that such people congregate primarily on the internet, it may be more difficult to penetrate their activities and predict when they will become violent. This suspect in particular was sending out somewhat ambiguous signals, which might not have provided sufficient clues to allow law enforcement to act. One problem with modern forms of communication is that they encourage people to interact mainly with like-minded individuals, and to […]

Those who take mediation seriously want to encourage parties to participate in good faith, and to prepare properly for mediation sessions, so that the process can achieve maximum benefit. We have to recognize, however, that there can be a tension between the desire to make sure that the parties don’t waste each others’–and the mediator’s–time, and the need for confidentiality, safety and flexibility in making mediation work. In other words, how do you promote the most effective use of mediation without slipping into exactly the kind of rules and sanctions-based world that mediation was designed to escape? Don’t ask the courts to resolve this dilemma, because they don’t see it. Courts are entirely comfortable operating in the world of rules […]

In the budget negotiations going on in Congress, once again we see the president assuming the role of mediator. Republican leaders in particular, while remaining adamant that they will not compromise on their position of keeping tax increases off the table, have lately almost been begging for the president’s intervention to break the impasse. The Republican leaders sound to me like some of the lawyers I sometimes see representing an intransigent side in settlement negotiations. They know they have to make a deal, but they or their clients have boxed themselves into an untenable position. They need the mediator to “force” them to make a deal. Today President Obama gave a statement to the press seeming to ride to the […]