February 2015
 

COURT ADR NEWS

Idaho Counties Resolve Felonies with Criminal Mediation

Criminal mediation has become increasingly popular in Idaho, according to the Idaho Statesman. In 2011, the Idaho Supreme Court established statewide rules for criminal mediation, now used in several county programs. In one county, the process has become so popular that it has been used to settle cases before trial in all but one murder in the last two years. Criminal mediation is an outgrowth of the plea-bargain process. The court rule names the defendant and the prosecutor as the parties, although the opposing attorneys act as parties in most mediations. The mediators on the court’s roster are senior and sitting judges who have undergone training. All cases are confidential except as required for reporting child abuse. The judge who mediates the case may not discuss it with the trial judge. In a session, the mediator listens to the attorneys’ positions and offers perspective on their cases’ strengths and weaknesses. Any topic the court deems beneficial may be discussed, including sentencing agreements, restitution, and future relationships with any victim. One rationale for the program is the potential savings in time and costs compared to criminal trials, which may last for months or be expensive.

Call for Nominations for Award for ADR Scholarship

The Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution at St. John’s University School of Law has announced a new $5,000 annual award for published ADR research. The Mangano Dispute Resolution Advancement Award “honors the researcher(s) whose published empirical research has furthered the advancement and understanding of the values and skills of dispute resolution.” Submissions nominating papers published between January 2013 and February 2015 should be entered by Friday, February 27.

Michigan Enacts Uniform Collaborative Law Act

Michigan has now enacted the Uniform Collaborative Law Act,, and is the tenth state in the country to do so. Gov. Rick Snyder signed SB 714 into law last June; it took effect in December. The act establishes procedures for use of the collaborative law process. Collaborative law is a voluntary process, typically used in family law, in which lawyers representing the parties work together to come to an agreement. If no agreement is reached, the collaborative attorneys may not represent the parties at trial. Collaborative law attempts to encourage problem-solving between parties, rather than adversarial techniques. 
 

THIS MONTH AT RSI

Homeowner Workshops Streamline Process

By Shawn Davis, Director of Foreclosure Mediation, and Kevin Malone, Kane County Foreclosure Mediation Coordinator

In Kane County, RSI has held its first two workshops for homeowners facing foreclosure, and has a third scheduled. The workshops streamline the process of foreclosure mediation for affected homeowners. Attendees are able to do their mediation program intake with the Kane County Program Coordinator at our program office located in the courthouse, and can then move directly to receiving legal aid and housing counseling. Homeowners also receive help filing their court appearance, which is required for entry into this mediation program. This streamlining is particularly beneficial because foreclosure mediation is most effective when homeowners receive housing counseling and legal aid, yet homeowners in Kane County often don’t take advantage of these services because they are overwhelmed by navigating the court and by the resources available to them. By connecting homeowners with trusted program partners, we help ensure that the mediation process goes more smoothly for homeowners as well as lenders. We will track our attendees’ success to see if the workshops increase homeowner compliance with the program. So far, the results are promising. 

Statistical Results Persuade Stakeholders

by Shawn Davis, Director of Foreclosure Mediation, and Olga Kordonskaya, Lake County Foreclosure Mediation Coordinator

In RSI’s Lake County foreclosure mediation program we’ve had a lot of exciting transitions. The changes were brought about, in large part, by the program data and statistical analysis that RSI keeps on all of our foreclosure mediation programs. By keeping detailed and accurate program records, we can quickly identify program areas in need of improvement and respond effectively to such needs. Our data compares program outcomes across different program models; this "cross-pollination" encourages the courts to use our expertise when they would like to make modifications or improve outcomes. That’s exactly what's currently happening in Lake County. RSI recommended changes to the local rules of the foreclosure mediation program there, aimed at making the program more widely accessible, so that we can improve program usage rates and satisfaction levels. Changes include expanding the program’s housing counseling partnerships, making more homeowner resources available online and modifying program deadlines to better work with the realities of the foreclosure process. Using the lens of the statistical reports, our program stakeholders and the court agreed with these recommendations. We continued this process by holding discussions with the program's mediators and members of the local bar, and are now submitting the rules for approval by the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. It's very satisfying to see our program expand and evolve. We'll keep you posted on how these program modifications enable us to better serve the community.
 

NEW RESEARCH

Research Tools for ADR

by Jennifer Shack, Director of Research 

If you’re interested in how states are approaching restorative justice, you might want to check out a new resource from the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (CNCR). Their spreadsheet gives a quick overview of all the statutes regarding restorative justice in each state, along with any changes to the statutes over time. It also conveniently includes a link to each statute. Another good research tool that’s been around for a while is Restorative Justice Online’s database of articles, which, like RSI’s database on court ADR, includes summaries of the articles. 

Statistic of the Month

Periodically, our Director of Research will bring you a new statistic from the world of court ADR, either from our own programs or from others. Here’s the first.

This month’s statistic comes from RSI’s three foreclosure mediation programs: the conversion rate from temporary loan modifications to permanent ones. This statistic sheds light on the effectiveness of the agreements reached. Most agreements for home retention are for a temporary loan modification. So long as the homeowner makes all payments on time and in full, and agrees to continue the payments, these modifications become permanent after the trial period ends. If the temporary modifications aren’t made permanent, the foreclosure process continues. This means the homes aren’t truly retained. We found that most loan modifications in our programs are being converted. In the 16th Circuit (Kane County), 24 of 26 loan modifications were made permanent, while in the 19th Circuit (Lake County), eight of 11 have been. There is no data for the 17th Circuit (Winnebago and Boone counties) because the outcomes of temporary loan modifications aren’t able to be tracked for that program. Although the results are preliminary, we’re happy to see this early sign of success.

New Statistics on Foreclosure Mediation
For those of you keeping tabs on the progress of foreclosure mediation in Illinois, I’ve just completed the latest statistical report for the six Attorney General-funded programs. 

RSI Board Of Directors

Hon. Morton Denlow (ret.), President
Terry Moritz, Vice President
Prof. James J. Alfini
Rajive Chadha
Hon. Allen S. Goldberg (ret.)
Mitchell Marinello
Raven Moore
Hon. Stephen Pacey (ret.)
Hon. Judith Rice
Brian Roche
Hon. Karen G. Shields (ret.)
Hon. James Sullivan (ret.)

RSI Staff

Susan M. Yates, Executive Director 
Kimberly Ackmann
Bridget Crawford

Shawn Davis
Olga Kordonskaya
Kevin Malone
Mary Novak, Editor
Jennifer Shack

SUPPORT RSI


RSI is a non-profit organization that strengthens justice by enhancing court ADR systems through expertise in program development, research and resources. 

NEWS & UPDATES


ADR Safety Presentation

Executive Director Susan Yates partnered with Corrine “Cookie” Levitz of the Cook County Family Mediation Services to present a brown-bag seminar on ADR safety hosted by the Cook County Law Division. The presentation was part of a series moderated by Hon. Allen S. Goldberg (ret.), a member of the RSI Board of Directors. 

FROM OUR BLOG


Trends in Court ADR for 2015

A roundup of some of the year's most interesting trends

What Happens to Temporary Loan Modifications Reached in Foreclosure Mediation?

Do homeowners with temporary loan modifications manage to avert foreclosure?

HOW CAN WE HELP?


How Can We Help You? RSI offers a clearinghouse of information on CourtADR.org and also responds to request for information. Do you have a question about court ADR?
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RSI thanks JAMS and the JAMS Foundation for their support of this publication.

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