Mediation will be used to resolve the dispute between Butler Wooten & Peak and Robert Cheeley. According to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall, the case “… makes lawyers look bad. ”
The case has been contentious to date. The dispute is over millions of dollars in lawyer fees. Judge Schwall was asked to void the confidential arbitration award that favored Butler Wooten & Peak.
Schwall called the attorneys involved in the case “some of the finest and most respected in the state,” and pointed out many of them are his friends. He also told Cheeley that getting the award set aside would be “an uphill battle. ”
His hope is that the two sides will be able to sit down in good faith and come to a resolution in mediation. He appointed former King & Spalding managing partner and litigator Ralph Levy to oversee the process. Levy is not a mediator with JAMS and told Judge Schwall that he had handled “the hardest cases with the big egos. ” Schwall is hopeful it will be a mission Levy can handle.
Egos are an ongoing concern in the case. Former Governor Roy Barnes, sharing the duty of representing Cheeley with Scott Dickinson, said he had received a threat of a lawsuit and had been accused of tampering with the court’s filing system since joining the defense. He also said he had been called “an SOB. ”
According to the other side, there have been offers made to resolve the matter, but those efforts were refused in an effort to publicly embarrass Butler Wooten. The plaintiff also believes the request to set aside the award is to make a public relations statement.