Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mediation Program

What is Mediation?

Mediation services for Small Claims litigants are now available on site at the Carol Miller Justice Center on the day set for trial. Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution that has proven very effective in helping Small Claims litigants to resolve their cases. During a mediation session, a mediator meets with both parties of a Small Claims action and helps them gain a deeper understanding of their conflict so they can create their own solutions to the dispute.

For more information on mediation statewide, please check the Judicial Council of California's Web site, Small Claims Court Information Center - external link.

Why Use Mediation?

Mediation can be beneficial to both plaintiffs and defendants. Mediators are specially trained to help people with conflicts find constructive ways to resolve them. Even if the other party involved in the case seems unreasonable or you have already tried to resolve your case, mediation may still be helpful. Mediation allows the parties involved in the case to choose solutions that work best for them. When parties take their case to court before a judicial officer, there is a risk that neither party will get the outcome that she/he wants. Mediation allows the parties to retain control over what happens in their case.

Benefits of Mediation

  • Promotes communication and cooperation
  • Helps people end problems, not relationships
  • Prevents the escalation of conflict
  • Allows the people with the conflict to choose the solutions that work best for them
  • Parties can structure payment plans that fit within their budgets
  • Allows parties to keep the issues in their case confidential
  • People who create their own agreements are more likely to follow through with their promises

How Does the Mediation Program Work?

The mediation session takes place outside the courtroom on the day scheduled for the trial. Both the plaintiff and the defendant must agree to participate in the process. A mediator from the program will meet with you and the other party in your case. You do not need to make an appointment ahead of time to participate in mediation on the day of your hearing; however, you may call the program office ahead of time if you wish to try and resolve your Small Claims case prior to the hearing date.

If your case is resolved through mediation, you and the other party will sign a document that outlines what you both have agreed to do. The document will become a part of the court file. If you are not able to resolve your case through mediation, you will go back into the courtroom and a judicial officer will hear your case. Mediation will not delay your opportunity for a court hearing.

The mediators for the program are provided by the Human Rights/Fair Housing Commission - external link of the City and County of Sacramento. Mediation services are provided to the litigants free of charge. Further information about mediation services is available at the Carol Miller Justice Center, or by calling 916-875-7843.