Having recently passed or fourth anniversary, the DuPage County Court-Ordered Civil Mediation program deserves to be reviewed and credited. As Supervising Judge, I’m Pleased to report that we are alive and well - if only operating as a boutique industry, rather than as the department store operation some had predicted.
Since beginning in June of 1996 (through April 21, 2000) 167 Civil Law and Chancery cases have gone into our mediation program. The majority, or 71% of them, have come out of Law, while 29% have come from Chancery. The success rate has been 59%, with 54% achieving full agreement. In a more current frame, from 1998 to the present, a larger percentage have come from Chancery (45%), and the success rate has risen to 66%, with 61% achieving full agreement.
While most of the unsuccessful mediation cases do settle before trial, the obvious benefit of Mediation is that settlement comes early in the case - usually within 45 to 60 days of entering the Court-Ordered Civil Mediation Program. This means a huge savings in time and money. Also, because the settlement is designed and approved by the parties themselves, there is a high satisfaction rate with the case’s resolution. Almost without exception, the parties conclude their cases having been pleased with the process as well as the settlement terms.
With the number of cases that have experienced mediation, there are many practicing lawyers who know the benefits to be realized from the program. By Supreme Court Rule, litigators for each case must consider mediation at the time of the case’s 218 Conference. Contract cases and cases in which the parties may wish to continue a relationship after the litigation are particularly well suited to mediation, but medical negligence and many other tort cases have also been successfully mediated. Every case in which the parties seek a quick and less expensive resolution may benefit from the expertise of one of our talented Court-Ordered Civil Mediators.
Until now, the lawyers handling those cases have had an original list of 39 Mediators from which to choose. Each of those mediators is ether a retired Judge, or had gone through the training classes which were sponsored by CAADR’s and provided free of charge. There is an initial requirement to provide as many as three free mediations during the first two years.
The Eighteen Judicial Circuit has recently seen fit to expand the ranks of certified Court-Ordered Mediators to retired Judges and practitioners beyond the original 39. We recognize there have been number of effective training classes being offered by fine educational institutions, and felt it appropriate to open certification to those who have successfully completed on of those 40-hour programs. The Office of the Chief Judge is accepting applications, and the certified list of Mediators will be updated as of July 1, 2000, and will be revised periodically as new Mediators continue to be certified. Each newly certified Mediator will be required to provide his or her first mediation on a pro bono basis.
Hon. Robert K. Kilander, Circuit Judge, is the Presiding Judge of the Law Division and the Supervising Judge of the Mediation Program for the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit, DuPage County, Illinois.