History

TIMELINE

1989 - Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution appointed by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer

1991 - Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution issues Preliminary Report and Recommendations

1992 - Dispute Resolution Section created

1995-1998 - Pilot program to test in-house mediation grant funds to three courts

1997 - Members of the Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution appointed to the Futures Commission

1997-2000 - "Mediation Institutionalization Project" provides grants to fund 11 mediation programs serving 15 counties and 31 courts

1999-2001 - "Mediation Institutionalization Project - Phase II" provides grants to fund 10 mediation programs, serving 13 counties and 15 courts

2000-2002 - "Mediation Institutionalization Project - Phase III" provides grants to fund six programs serving seven counties and eight courts

2002-2003 - No grant funding available due to budget cuts

2003-2005 - "Mediation Institutionalization Project - Phase IV" provides grants to fund four programs serving eight counties and nine courts

2006-present - "Mediation Institutionalization Project - Phase V" provides grants for developing court-connected mediation services in rural counties providing for seven programs serving 17 counties. Added one expansion project and pilot project to assess outcomes of partial-funding for mediation program start-up. Designed the "Rule 16. Mediation: Local Rule Guide."

Dispute Resolution Section: Current Projects
Origins and Initial Work
Preliminary Recommendations
Early Inititatives and the Creation of the Dispute Resolution Section
Pilot Program and Institutionalization
Continued Growth and Legislation Activity
Committee Activity in the Futures Commission
Other Interests

Dispute Resolution Section: Current Projects

On Aug. 8, the Court adopted Revised Rule 16 of the Rules of Superintendence, effective Jan. 1, 2007. To meet the requirements of the revised rule, the Dispute Resolution Section, in collaboration with the Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution, created the "Rule 16. Mediation: Local Rule Guideā€ which includes step-by-step directions and sample provisions for courts to create a local rule.

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Origins and Initial Work

The Supreme Court of Ohio Committee on Dispute Resolution was appointed in 1989 by the late Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, who saw the importance of opening Ohio's courts to the use of alternative dispute resolution.

Chief Justice Moyer's address to the Joint Convention of the 118th General Assembly stated:

There is no system of justice in the world that is more accessible than the American judicial system. Our purpose is to fairly and impartially resolve people's disputes in a peaceful forum. The institution is viable because it enjoys the confidence of the people it serves. But if we ask ourselves whether the system functions as effectively as it can, the answer is no. Too many people are frustrated with the delay and the cost associated with resolving civil disputes. Too many cases are filed that should not be filed; too many cases languish on court dockets only to be settled after considerable delay and expense . . .

The time to consider alternative means of dispute resolution is here . . .

We have a unique opportunity to say to persons who look to the Ohio legal system for the resolution of their disputes that we have various processes to resolve those disputes fairly and efficiently.

The original committee consisted of 34 members with a broad range of backgrounds and experience: trial lawyers, judges, educators, arbitrators, mediators, and others. The committee has had five chairpersons: David Ward (1989 - 1994), Judge James DeWeese (1994 - 1996), Robert Rack (1996 - 2000), William Clark (2000-2006) and Frank Motz (2006-present).

The committee's initial work was performed through four subcommittees: municipal court, common pleas court, domestic relations and juvenile courts, and administrative. Art Marziale, then Chief Justice Moyer's administrative assistant, provided early staffing assistance.

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Preliminary Recommendations

In 1991, the committee submitted its Preliminary Report and Recommendations to the Supreme Court. The committee recommended that the Court:

  1. Establish an office of dispute resolution to provide technical assistance, monitoring, and training to courts interested in providing dispute resolution programs.
  2. Encourage all courts to adopt dispute resolution programs as a part of a comprehensive case-management program.
  3. Consider asking the General Assembly of Ohio to fund court-related dispute resolution programs as part of the judiciary budget administered by the Supreme Court.
  4. Mandate continuing education in dispute resolution concepts for judges in Ohio.
  5. Mandate a one-time mandatory continuing legal education requirement in dispute resolution concepts for attorneys in Ohio.
  6. Assure minimum standards for qualifications and training of mediators in court-administered programs.
  7. Adopt a rule of superintendence to establish the qualifications of mediators in court-administered programs involving child custody and visitation matters.
  8. Request the General Assembly of Ohio to adopt a statute providing a privilege for mediation.
  9. Adopt a superintendence rule authorizing the use of arbitration in the juvenile and domestic relations divisions of the common pleas court.
  10. Request the General Assembly to continue funding of the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management through June 30, 1993.
  11. Not establish a directory of mediators.

Except for recommendations four and five -- mandatory education in dispute resolution concepts for all judges and attorneys in Ohio -- these recommendations were adopted by the Court and have guided the work of the committee. The Court did not deem it appropriate to mandate continuing education for judges and attorneys. Since 1992, however, many judges, magistrates, and attorneys have participated in both continuing legal education and mediation training.

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Early Initiatives and the Creation of the Dispute Resolution Section

The Supreme Court of Ohio Dispute Resolution Section was created in 1992. C. Eileen Pruett was the first coordinator. Bruce E. Heckman, the former manager, succeeded her in 2004. The current manager is Jacqueline Hagerott. The office has a staff of five and is located on the 6th floor of the Moyer Judicial Center in Columbus. The staff coordinates and facilitates the work of the Advisory Committee on Dispute Resolution.

One of the early initiatives of the committee was creation of a Circuit Rider Program. Over an 18-month period, the Supreme Court employed a consultant who assisted several municipal and county courts in recruiting, training and utilizing volunteer mediators in the resolution of small claims disputes. Judge Howard Zwelling, then judge of the Zanesville Municipal Court, played a key role in the development of that program. Shirley Cochran, a Columbus attorney and mediator, served effectively as the circuit rider. The experience and lessons learned from that program have been useful in implementing subsequent programs involving other courts.

An evaluation subcommittee led by Nancy Rogers, dean of the Ohio State University Moritz Collee of Law, designed a feedback questionnaire to determine how attorneys and parties felt about court-provided mediation. The data collected was professionally analyzed and evaluated by Roselle Wissler, Ph.D. This research demonstrated that as courts and attorneys become more familiar with mediation, the better they like it and the more willing they are to use it as a means of resolving litigated disputes without going to trial.

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Pilot Program and Institutionalization

In 1996, based on the goal of increasing attorney and client participation in mediation, the committee implemented a three-year pilot program to test the feasibility of in-house mediation, i.e., having a mediation coordinator employed by the local court to mediate cases and otherwise serve as an integral part of its case management system. Three common pleas courts of varying sizes (Clinton, Montgomery, and Stark counties) participated in this program. Frank Motz, then a consultant provided by the Supreme Court, assisted the courts throughout the project. Each court received grants of federal and state funds to pay for the salaries of a mediator and support person. The program proved to be successful, and all three courts elected to continue the program after their Supreme Court funding ceased.

Based on the success of the pilot project, the court decided to begin the process of institutionalization, i.e., to encourage and assist courts throughout the state to implement in-house mediation programs. The current goal of the Supreme Court is to have mediation services available in the common pleas courts of all of Ohio's 88 counties by the year 2005.

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Continued Growth and Legislation Activity

In 1997, 11 additional court mediation programs were approved and funded for three years by the Supreme Court. Ten more courts were added to the growing list of participants in 1998 and six courts in 2000. Seven courts were added in 2001 and an additional 12 courts since then.

The funding mechanism provided by the Ohio General Assembly to the Supreme Court has been vital to the committee's work. The General Assembly appropriated approximately $1 million per year for grant projects. Each new court program is now funded for a period of two years, after which the local court provides its own funding.

The committee has also been instrumental in implementing Ohio legislation and rules relating to dispute resolution. Rule 16 of the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio governs parenting mediation programs in domestic relations courts. The committee also supported legislation that permits courts to provide funding for mediation programs through add-on filing fees.

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Committee Activity in the Futures Commission

Judge James Ray and David Ward from this committee were appointed to the Ohio Courts Futures Commission in 1997. The commission's charge was to "develop an ambitious vision of what Ohio's courts could and should look like in the year 2025."

Recommendations about dispute resolution include the following:

The committee provided significant input to the Ohio Courts Futures Commission regarding dispute resolution and mediators. The committee believes that the Supreme Court of Ohio should ensure minimum standards of training qualifications for mediators in court-administered programs, but the committee stopped short of recommending that Ohio should license or certify specific mediators. The rationale for this approach is found in the fact that there is no evidence to support that any particular education, work experience or training is the determining factor in obtaining quality mediation. Courts using mediators in court programs must retain and supervise qualified mediators.

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Other Interests

The Dispute Resolution Section addressed appropriate expansion of victim offender mediation/dialogue and supports expansion of these services in Ohio courts. The section will consider how courts may make appropriate use of collaborative, consensus-building processes in resolving mass tort cases and public policy disputes. The Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management is an ideal partner for this effort because of the commission's previous involvement in such matters.

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