Public Sponsorship of Private Settling: Court-ordered Civil Case Mediation
Political Science and International Affairs
North Carolina's program of court-ordered mediation of general civil cases originated in the advocacy of attorneys, including those interested in the private practice of mediation. The state court system sponsored the program by certifying mediators, issuing procedural rules, and ordering cases to mediate. The goals of the program were to make litigation more efficient, less costly, and more satisfying to litigants. A controlled study of the North Carolina program indicates that although it shortened case-processing time, it did not reduce the trial rate or litigants' legal fees. Most cases that settled in mediation probably would have settled conventionally without mediation. While most participating litigants liked their experience in mediation, it did not increase their satisfaction with their entire case nor was it more satisfactory than conventional settlement. About half of eligible cases actually participated in mediation, fewer than had been expected. Serving the public interest is the court's foremost concern. Court administrators and judges need to think through the implications of public sponsorship of civil case mediation.
The Justice System Journal