Florida Supreme Court in Search of Mediators
Monday, November, 18, 2019
The work of mediators has been so successful in the Fourteenth Judicial Court in Florida that the Supreme Court is looking for additional people to fill the role. Mediators have taken numerous cases off of court dockets and allowed them to be resolved elsewhere through alternative dispute resolution that allow disputing parties to achieve mutual agreements. The practice has been going on for approximately 20 years.
According to Carol Dunaway, Director of Mediation Programs for the 14th Judicial Circuit, “What was once a small program in Bay County serving just a few judges has expanded greatly over the years, serving multiple judges throughout the circuit.”
There are both staff and contract mediators working in the program. Every one of them has had 40 hours or more of specialized training, mentored under a mediator that was already certified, and is curtained themselves by the Florida Supreme Court. There are both paid and volunteer mediators, the latter of whom handle the majority of mediations.
The overall success rate of mediation is about 65 to 75 percent in the program, which is considered quite high. It is considered an invaluable part of the court system.
According to Dunaway, the mediators, including her, love what they do. “I have been a mediator for over 12 years and mediated thousands of cases, each one unique and different from the next, but one thing is consistent, people just want to be heard and want to have an opportunity to tell their version of their story. Peacemaking and problem solving is one of the many rewards a mediator enjoys.”
The court is pre-qualifying applicants and inviting potential future mediators to attend a free Supreme Court approved training program in Panama City this January.