At the Orange County Mediation Conference on March 20, 2015, one of the lunchtime speakers, Judge Nakamura, who is chair of the ADR committee of the Orange County Superior Court, mentioned that the court's existing mediation program has been poorly utilized. He seemed puzzled by this problem, since the panel of experienced court-connected mediators has a high success rate in resolving cases. And since these mediators agreed to charge only $150/hour for court-referred cases, their services are a relative bargain as well.

Judge Nakamura's proposed solution is a pilot program in Orange County for mandatory mediation of civil cases. He believes this would take legislation to implement, and he urged those attending to contact their representatives in Sacramento to promote this idea. Most users of the California court system are aware of the drastic cutbacks in court funding that have contributed to delays and slower service in court. Something should be done to try to alleviate these problems. As the judge mentioned, if the court can require parties to meet and confer before filing demurrers and other motions, why not require some form of negotiation or dispute resolution procedure to attempt to resolve the entire case?

Cheers to Therese Gray, and other members of her committee, for another informative and successful conference, where we also heard Jack Goetz and Barbara Brown talk about SCMA's mediator certification initiative, and Woody Mosten deliver a thought-provoking speech on the need for informed consent in mediation.

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By Joe Markowitz

Joe Markowitz has practiced commercial litigation for more than 30 years, both in New York City and Los Angeles, and has served as a mediator for more than fifteen years. He is a member of the Mediation Panels in both the District Court and Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California. He is currently the president-elect of the Southern California Mediation Association. Website: