Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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In an exchange of letters published in the most recent issue of the New York Review of Books, commenting on an article last month about reforming the plea bargaining process by Federal District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York, Judge Rakoff defends his proposal to get judges more involved in plea bargaining by comparing it to the way mediation is offered to civil litigants in the same court. Here is how he describes mediation as he sees it being practiced: [C]ivil litigants regularly meet with magistrate judges or court-appointed mediators shortly after a case is filed and, in separate, confidential presentations to the mediator, describe their respective evidence and positions. The mediator then meets again with the parties separately and, […]

Reading through some of the twitter comments that started popping up immediately after last night’s unusual World Series game, it wasn’t difficult to figure out which were written by Red Sox fans, and which by Cardinals fans. (For those who missed it, the Cardinals won in the bottom of the ninth when runner Allen Craig was called safe at home, even though he was clearly tagged out, because Craig had tripped over the legs of the Red Sox third baseman after rounding third base.) Obstruction is an obscure and complicated rule in the baseball rule book, but it didn’t take long before hundreds of “experts” started offering their interpretations. Everybody was pulling out the same rule book, but partisans on […]

The grand unwelcome budget-cutting experiment in which California courts are currently engaged may result in the undoing of reforms courts have developed over the past several decades to better manage their caseloads. Ideas that both the federal and state systems now consider best practices, such as the individual calendar system and closer judicial involvement in pre-trial proceedings, are in danger of being thrown out. Case in point: the LA County Superior Court, the largest local court system in the country, is seeking to jettison case management conferences, one of the main tools the court has at its disposal to check in with the parties early in the case and help steer cases to resolution. The court is also planning a […]

Although the budget crisis in California has lasted for years, the state court system has until now managed to avoid the worst possible scenarios. Courts have survived these hard times by depleting their reserves and diverting their capital budgets for operations. Having exhausted those strategies, and with no prospect of restoration of full funding in sight, the courts have finally had to take more drastic actions to grapple with huge funding shortfalls. Recently, the Los Angeles County Court system announced their plan to deal with budget cuts by closing 10 regional courthouses, including the branch courthouses in Beverly Hills, Malibu, Pomona, and Whittier. These facilities may end up staying open only for such purposes as paying traffic tickets. Their courtrooms […]

It’s not too late to register for the SCMA fall conference at scenic Pepperdine Law School in Malibu, worth driving up to for the view alone. The program promises to be just as spectacular as the setting, with two institutes, on elder mediation and collaborative family law, scheduled for Friday, November 4, before the main conference on November 5. A few of the Saturday panels include online dispute resolution, intercultural mediation, confidentiality and ethics, ombuds programs, conflict management coaching, and more. To top it off, we will have a keynote speech from Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries. I am excited to have the chance to moderate a discussion on developments in court ADR programs, featuring the administrators of […]