Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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I try to avoid second guessing juries, even when they don’t come out the way I might think they should. And I generally would not say that any acquittal in the criminal justice system shows that the system is not working. That’s because our criminal justice system is supposed to be based on the premise that it is better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent person is convicted. A wrongful conviction might be used as evidence that the system is not working. But an acquittal, even of a guilty defendant, shows the system is working the way it was designed. But if the acquittal in the Zimmerman case can be taken as evidence that the system […]

On July 16,2013 the Southern California Mediation Association is holding a launch party for our Select a Mediator directory. This promises to be one of our biggest and best parties EVER, so please invite all your friends. The launch party is not limited to SCMA members, or to mediators. In fact, we encourage attorneys and other consumers of mediation services to come and learn more about our service. This event will take place at the Sofitel Hotel at 6:00 p.m. (MORE DETAILS AND RSVP HERE) Created in response to the dismantling of the LA Superior Court random select and party select mediation panels, our directory represents a substantial upgrade of SCMA’s member directory. It allows users to search for mediators […]

I’ve been working with my co-chair Robyn Weinstein to put together SCMA’s 25th annual fall conference, to take place in Malibu on November 2, 2013. Our theme this year is “Crisis and Opportunity: Expanding the Field of Conflict Resolution.” The theme is drawn in part from our organization’s efforts to create new opportunities for mediators in the wake of the unexpected closing of the Los Angeles County Superior Court ADR program. But there are plenty of other crises all around. Take your pick of them. Our aim is to get people thinking about how the tools and tricks of our trade can be used to solve a myriad of problems, from international conflict to partisan gridlock in Washington to environmental […]

Yesterday I mediated my last case referred by the Los Angeles Superior Court mediation program (aside from a couple of cases I am still trying to wind up as private mediations). This last case turned out to serve as a good illustration of some of the problems with the LA program. It was a case involving a high dollar amount, making me wonder why the parties chose a randomly-assigned mediator for three free hours. One of the attorneys was determined to insult the mediator, reminding me that I was chosen at random and admonishing me not to speak to her client. Another attorney refused to engage in any substantive discussions about the case until after the other side presented what […]

The official word came down yesterday from the LA Superior Court ADR program, in a notice sent to all members of the court’s ADR panels. The entire department is shutting down by the end of June. No more cases will be sent to mediation after this week. All current cases are supposed to be set for hearings by May 10, 2013. It is truly the end of an era for court-related ADR in Los Angeles County. Whatever gripes users and mediators may have had with this program, and I have heard lots of them, the size and scope of this program was still a truly impressive achievement for the court. The ADR department successfully helped resolve thousands of cases every […]