Mediation plays unheralded role in court

The New Mexico Supreme Court has proclaimed next week “Mediation week in New Mexico.”

The Court believes so strongly in alternative dispute resolution that, at its direction, a statewide commission was formed.

Duane Castleberry

Duane Castleberry

The commission was chaired by Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez, who later named David Levin, director of Magistrate Court Mediation for the Administrative Office of The Courts, as co-chair.

The commission is made up of lawyers, judges, mediators, educators and lay persons held in high regard from throughout the state.

The New Mexico Judicial long-range planning committee established as a goal the improvement of ADR methods and the education of the public about the availability of such methods. The National Center for State Courts was commissioned to do a statewide, comprehensive assessment of court annexed ADR programs in all levels of courts, and to suggest practical strategies for improving the use of ADR programs.

One of the most common forms of ADR is mediation. This form of resolution is accomplished by a neutral third party that facilitates communication between the parties to help them resolve their own dispute in a voluntary and mutually acceptable agreement.

The mediator is only there to facilitate communication and not to offer any suggestions or solutions to settlement.

Mediation can be used to resolve a broad array of disputes including civil, family, juvenile, and even criminal matters.

Among the potential benefits to litigants, the courts, and the public is a reduction in court filings, fewer court procedures, fewer trials, smaller court staff workloads, less cost to the litigants and party satisfaction with the outcome because the agreement is self-determined by the parties.

Another benefit is a lesser chance of future disputes between the parties.

The 9th Judicial District consisting of Curry and Roosevelt Counties is lucky to have mediation programs already in place at the Magistrate and District Court levels and functioning efficiently.

The success of court connected mediation programs are largely attributable to efforts of court staff, judges, justice partners, local and state government agencies, the legal bar, and volunteers who give of their time for the betterment of their community.

Our district boasts a rare co-operation of all five District Court judges, all three Magistrate Court judges, their court staffs, the mediators, and the New Mexico Supreme Court.

 

Duane K. Castleberry is a Curry County magistrate judge. Contact him at:

castleberry@plateautel.net

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