ADR Committee Meeting Minutes
April 3, 2003
Messrs. Harwi and Rosenstein called the meeting to order.
Mr. Harwi gave a report on his meeting with Judges Robreno and DuBois, representatives of the Federal Courts Committee, regarding Local Rule 53.3 and its related mediation protocol. The ADR Committee presented its comments to the judges on the proposed Local Rule. These comments addressed:
Comments also came to the Federal Courts Committee from other sources. There appeared to be differing interests held by the ADR Committee and by the Federal Courts Committee. Although Judges Robreno and DuBois were sympathetic to the concerns and comments of the ADR committee and although they understood that the proposed rule did not direct parties to engaged in classical mediation, the judges were insistent that the conference be called a mediation conference rather than an Abbreviated Mediation Conference. Judge DuBois suggested that the name might be changed to Court Annexed Mediation. Mr. Harwi also addressed the ADR Committee�s suggested changes in the confidentiality provisions of the proposed rule so as not to allow judges to communicate with mediators. The judges expressed sympathy with the ADR Committee�s concern and said they would take it under advisement. Judge DuBois also indicated he was sympathetic to and understood the ADR Committee�s concern regarding the lack of training of mediators in that the proposed 4 hour training session would be inadequate to train untrained mediators. However it appears that the judges do not want more than 4 hours of training since this is al all-volunteer group. There will be no form of payment to mediators. The judges would like the ADR Committee to train the mediators, but the Committee has not yet accepted this task. There was discussion as to why federal courts here are unwilling to pay mediators when federal courts in other districts are willing to and do pay mediators.
The discussion and comment period on the proposed rule has now been extended to May 30, 2003.
There was general discussion about the state of mediation in the region. David Harwi suggested that to make mediation popular it would have to be a revenue opportunity for defense lawyers. Mark Welge suggested that a downturn in the economy has resulted in fewer suits being filed and fewer lawyers who are willing to submit the litigation they do have to ADR. There is also the impression that the judicial culture in PA is hostile to mediation plus the fact that each court is allowed to decide on ADR practices on its own, whereas in NJ there is a unified court system.
Noted was the fact that contact has been made with Leslie Anne Mille, Counsel to Gov. Edward Rendell through the initiative of the Allegheny and Philadelphia Bar Associations ADR Committees and the PA Council of Mediators. Ms. Miller asked that a complete ADR vision statement be presented for consideration by the Office of General Counsel.
Jim Rosenstein commented that we are trying to create a culture of ADR that is similar to what exists in MD. We have to engage the community in an exploration of what ADR is about, both a government-related and a private practice vision. In MD, a program was implemented with court funding and funding from the Hewlett Foundation. In MD, all interested groups got together to create a mediation program. In PA, it appears that the Office of General Counsel is contemplating a top down approach.
A Symposium on Mediation will be held at Dickinson Law School with Bob Ackerman on April 10-12, 2003.