THE RESOLUTION REPORT ONLINE
December 2006 - Volume 21, Number 4
News on Dispute Resolution trends, laws and ethics
As the year winds to a close, it seems appropriate to take stock on accomplishments of the year, as well as to reflect on expectations for the coming year. In this issue of the Resolution Report, you’ll find an article on our annual conference. This event clearly goes in the major accomplishment category. With over 1000 participants in attendance as we commemorated the 20 th anniversary of the Center, it was truly an awesome experience to look out and see all those dispute resolvers gathered together in one place. It also was a personal honor for me to recognize David Strawn for his significant contributions to ADR in Florida. The conference remains one of the best deals in town for providing an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, to satisfy CME requirements, and to become re-energized through challenging thoughts and inspired comments. We’ve signed our contract at the Rosen Centre for 2007 (August 23 – 25) and are working on finalizing 2008, so be sure to save the dates.
Senior Judges and Mediators
This past week, Judge Tom Bateman, Judge Frank Kaney, Seymour Benson (retired circuit judge), and I conducted the first offering of the special ethics program for senior judges who also serve as mediators. This course was mandated by the Florida Supreme Court in Opinion SC04-2482 In Re: Report of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy Committee on Senior Judges as Mediators (915 So.2d 145). With nearly 50 senior judges in attendance, the discussion was lively and informative. The team will now begin work on preparing an on-line version of the course for release prior to November 3, 2007, the effective date of Rule 2.320, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration which mandates the completion of the course prior to a senior judges serving as a mediator. The offering of this course was the culmination of years of study by the Supreme Court Committee on ADR Rules and Policy on the issues related to Senior Judges Serving as Mediators, so it too, was a major accomplishment… and with the on-line version yet to be developed, more work lies ahead.
In July, the ADR Rules and Policy Committee adopted new, interim, standards for the four hour required training program. Rule 11.020, Florida Rules for Court-Appointed Arbitrators. The standards went into effect November 1 and all previously approved programs must re-design their training and re-submit for approval. A list of approved arbitration training programs can be found by following this link. We expect additional providers to be added so if you are interested in completing the training, please check back frequently. This also falls in the categories of both big accomplishment and more work to be done. Specifically, the Arbitration Subcommittee, under the chair of Perry Itkin, is undertaking a comprehensive review and reexamination of the rules of procedure, the statute, and the Florida Rules for Court-Appointed Arbitrators for needed revisions and updates. For the most part, the procedural rules governing court-connected arbitration have not been amended since adoption in 1988.
Another area in which we can note some major accomplishments and some unfinished work is with regards to the qualifications necessary to be certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a mediator. Specifically, 2006 saw Oral Argument on the bold point system recommendations from the ADR Rules and Policy Committee and the May 2006 release of SC05-998. See Resolution ReportVolume 21, Number 3 for a full reprint of the amended Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators. As those of you have been following this issue closely know, the qualifications point system was adopted in May, effective August 1, 2006, for all of the areas of certification (county, family, circuit and dependency), and that the Supreme Court maintained, on an interim, the requirements that individuals must be members of The Florida Bar with five years of Florida practice or retired judges from any US jurisdiction. This provision has been the subject of additional comments by The Florida Bar (August 2006) and Response by the ADR Rules and Policy Committee (September 2006). Thereafter, the Supreme Court published the full qualification point rule (retaining The Florida Bar membership or retired judge requirement) in The Florida Bar News ( November 1, 2006) and requested comments. The comment period ended December 1, and you can view the comments received by visiting the Clerk’s Rules Cases page. The Committee has been requested to file its response to the comments by December 21. You will be able to view that response once filed by following the same link. So, while the adoption of the Point System remains a major accomplishment of 2006, the full impact of the recommendations will not be known until 2007 when the Supreme Court issues it final Opinion on circuit mediator qualifications.
Mediator Qualifications Board (MQB) and Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee (MEAC)
The volunteer members of the MQB and MEAC continued to provide outstanding service. While the MEAC received seven requests for opinions, the MQB received a record twelve grievances.
We said goodbye to Northern Division Circuit Mediator MEAC member Willie Walker who completed two complete terms (8 years) on the MEAC and was not eligible for re-appointment. Joining the MEAC is Gerald Lewis who has already participated actively in the last few meetings. We also have been working on a revised index with enhanced ways to access previous opinions. Look for it to appear early 2007 on www.flcourts.org.
We also said good bye to the following MQB members: Robert Cameron, Khalil Day, Judge Pauline Drayton, Judge Jose Rodriquez, and Hannah Shear whose terms ended on the Board. At the most recent annual meeting of the Board, all members were thanked for their service and received a certificate of appreciation. Receiving special recognition were Judge Shawn Briese, Judge Theotis Bronson, Sonia Caplan, Welborn Daniel, Anthony Dieguez, Janice Fleischer, Julie Hilton, Chrystie Newell, and Carmen Stein who have served 15 years on the MQB! In addition, the Board observed a moment of silence for Judge Linda Dakis, also a founding member of the MQB, who died earlier this year.
Congratulations and welcome to new MQB members: Gary Feder, Judge Janis Keyser, Judge-Elect Elizabeth Krier, Carlotta Mitchell, Elaine Rindner, and Judge William Stone.
The work of the MEAC, the MQB, the MTRB and the various Supreme Court ADR Committees is so important and could not be accomplished without the dedicated service provided by the members. I am extremely grateful for all that they do!
In 2007, I anticipate that work will continue on the issues of mediator advertising and public education, use of ADR in the criminal context, appellate mediation, and consideration of court-connected ADR from a systems standpoint. In addition, to the regular work of certifying and renewing mediators, handling grievances, responding to requests for ethical opinions, publishing the newsletter and the compendium, we expect 2007 to be a year filled with opportunities!
I wish each of you a joyous holiday season and a new year filled with happiness, health, peace, and opportunities! Sharon