Judicial Settlement Conferences and Staff Mediation
Dispute Resolution Magazine, Vol. 17, p. 18, 2011
3 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2011
Date Written: 2011
The present Article summarizes the findings of an empirical study that provides a rare look at lawyers’ views of judicial settlement conferences and court staff mediation, based on their experience with the procedures in federal court. Lawyers have more concerns about settlement conferences with judges assigned to the case than about settlement conferences with other judges, but see few differences in benefits between the two. Staff mediation is far less likely to raise concerns than judicial settlement conferences, and presents a mixed picture with regard to its relative benefits. Lawyers’ strong overall preference for staff mediation suggests that when they consider all dimensions, lawyers assign greater importance to their concerns about judicial settlement conferences and to the benefits that staff mediators offer than to the benefits judges provide. Given the paramount importance of judicial impartiality, avoidance of the appearance of impropriety, and non-coercion of settlements in promoting public confidence in the procedures courts provide, the empirical research to date raises concerns about judges routinely conducting settlement conferences in cases assigned to them for trial.
Keywords: Judicial Settlement Conference, Mediation, Empirical Research
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