Ada County is the most populated county in Idaho with a population around 434,000 and growing. According to the census, Boise, the largest city in the county, is seeing an average of 2,600 people move to town each year. The courthouse located there has risen to the challenge of this growth by adding services that benefit the community. They offer Victim Assistance Programs, Court Assistance, Family Court Services, and a somewhat revolutionary court Mediation Program.
The Mediation Program at the Ada County Courthouse offers mediation services to Small Claims Court, Eviction Court, Family Services, and promises expansion into other courts. Mediators are providing the Ada County citizens with an excellent service that offers tangible results. From mediating divorce decrees to resolving cases outside of the courtroom mediators are transforming both party’s approach to litigation. All of these services are offered free of charge.
Ada County just released its 2016 Year In Review. The report highlights the efficiency of the Mediation Department:
- In 2016 the department mediated 661 cases.
- Resolutions obtained through mediation increased 11% – from 62% to 73%.
- The program saved 241 judicial hours.
This means that 73% of the time litigants choose to negotiate their own resolution with a mediator before the case is even heard by a judge. Those are amazing odds, allowing litigants to minimize the inconveniences of court, including missing work. You can avoid taking time off or interfering with family duties rather than being stuck in court.
The Way It Works
When you appear in court for an eviction or small claims you can expect to be warmly greeted by mediators. Everyone files into the courtroom. The judge comes in and takes roll call then hands the cases over to the mediators. Mediators then take you to a conference room where they explain the process and begin the negotiation process. They will often start with everyone in the same room – if it is too tense they will separate the disputants conducting a shuttle mediation process where the mediators go back and forth.
Mediation is defined as intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration according to Webster. The mediation model is aimed at both parties coming to a self-determined agreement. In mediation, parties have the power to negotiate and be creative with a solution without having to stand before the judge and explain themselves. The judge is unpredictable – you never know which way he is going to lean. So, even if you’re the plaintiff, an appearance in court doesn’t guarantee you will win – you may lose. Mediation is 100% confidential – no one can talk about what happens in the negotiation process and it cannot be used as evidence in a trial.
Parties have the power to negotiate and be creative with a solution without having to stand before the judge and explain themselves.
Getting to an agreement can be as simple as making a payment arrangement or compromising on the charges in question. When the agreement is written up it is a legally binding contract signed by both parties and the mediator. Often plaintiffs feel like defendants get off easier in mediation. They want their day in court and for the judge to put the defendant in their place. Mediation doesn’t take anyone off the hook. It works to form a resolution that is feasible and just. It does benefit both parties when it comes to credit scores and reputation management.
Way to go Ada County! You are serving Ada County residents with one of the most efficient and cost effective ways to get through litigation.
Also published on Medium.