The DC Superior Court Celebrates Mediation Week and Conflict Resolution Day in OctoberMore information
The Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division (MultiDoor) staff joins their conflict resolution colleagues around the country, and around the world, in celebrating ABA Mediation Week, and Conflict Resolution Day this October. MultiDoor staff often gets questions like "What is mediation?" and "What does the MultiDoor Dispute Resolution Division do?" Here are the answers to some of our most common FAQs!
What is the MultiDoor Dispute Resolution Division?Multi-Door's mission is to facilitate the fast, efficient, and fair settlement of disputes through the use of alternative dispute resolution. The name "Multi-Door" comes from the multi-door courthouse concept, which envisions one courthouse with multiple dispute resolution "doors" or options. The goals of the multi-door approach are to provide easy access to justice, reduce delay, and provide links to related services.
What is mediation?Mediation is an informal, collaborative, and confidential dispute resolution process, which is facilitated by a neutral third party (the mediator). The goal of mediation is to help parties clarify the facts, issues, and each party’s interests in the case; understand different perspectives; explore and evaluate various options for resolving the case; and, if possible, generate a mutually acceptable agreement.
What kind of disputes does MultiDoor mediate?Multi-Door mediates a wide variety of cases through its seven mediation programs. They also offer other alternative dispute resolution services, including the Community Information and Referral Program.
Who are MultiDoor’s mediators?The program's mediators are a diverse group in every sense of the phrase. They come from different professions, cultures, countries, religions, educational backgrounds, and family structures. Some mediators are just beginning their careers, while others are already enjoying their retirement.
Do mediators have to follow certain guidelines? What are those guidelines?Yes! MultiDoor's mediators are all trained in and comply with the Code of Ethical Standards for Mediators, as well as follow the D.C. Uniform Mediation Act.
What types of disputes does MultiDoor help with?The MultiDoor Dispute Resolution Division mediates a wide variety of cases through our multiple mediation programs. The Division also offers other alternative dispute resolution services, but mediation is our most frequently used service.
Civil ADR Program: The Civil ADR Program consists of Civil Mediation, Complex Mediation, and Early Medical Malpractice Mediation; other services include arbitration and case evaluation, though these are used much less frequently than the mediation services. Mediations are usually court-ordered and scheduled by the court.
Small Claims and Collections Mediation Program: The Small Claims Mediation Program pro-vides mediation for small claims matters. Typically, the disputes involve consumer and service provider complaints with claims of $5,000 or less. The Program also mediates certain types of collection matters for claims up to $25,000. Clients are served in the order in which they are referred to mediation from the courtroom.
Landlord & Tenant Mediation Program: This Program provides mediation for cases on both the L&T Jury Demand docket as well as the L&T Same-Day docket. Cases involve claims for possession of a rental property, past-due rent, or both. In Jury Demand cases, the cases are referred to mediation by the court and are by appointment only. For Same Day cases, either the presiding judge may refer a case to mediation or the parties may elect to mediate.
Probate and Tax Mediation Programs: Probate cases involving litigation are referred to mediation as part of the standard scheduling order; however, cases involving will contests, estate claims proceedings, fee disputes, and intervention matters are referred individually by the judge. Tax cases are referred to mediation at the initial status hearing, both for residential and commercial property cases. Mediations in the Probate and Tax Mediation Programs are generally court-ordered and by appointment only.
Community Information and Referral Program: This Program provides a number of services, including referrals to outside agencies. The Program also conciliates a variety of community disputes. Clients may walk-in or schedule an appointment in advance.
What’s important in Mediation?People have different ideas about what mediation is, in part because they have seen versions of mediation on television that don’t resemble what most mediators do. Mediators in the D.C. Courts operate under a code of ethics that is similar to those that govern most mediators in the U.S. Three of the most important principles in mediation are:
Self-Determination: The mediator encourages and supports the parties in deciding how they want to settle their dispute and does not push them toward a settlement that the mediator thinks is best. One of the great advantages of mediation is that parties can decide to settle a dispute in any way that satisfies them, even though the law might have dictated something very different. This doesn’t mean that mediators let parties make agreements that are illegal, but that mediation agreements can include things like apologies, if that's what is important to the parties.
Confidentiality: Mediators cannot share information revealed to them in mediation to anyone outside the mediation, and the participants can’t share information learned in mediation unless it becomes part of a signed mediation agreement. Confidentiality gives the participants the freedom to open up to a mediator and tell them things that they are uncomfortable saying in the presence of the other party, when meeting with a mediator individually. There are some exceptions to confidentiality, which include allegations of child abuse or credible threats of harm to oneself or others.
Impartiality: Mediators do not take sides in mediation. They do not show favoritism or prejudice towards any participant or any position taken by a participant in mediation. Instead, the mediator is committed to serving all parties, as opposed to a single party. If a mediator believes they cannot be impartial, they withdraw from the mediation and another mediator takes over.
How do I get more information about mediation offered by the MultiDoor Dispute Resolution Division of DC Superior Court?Visit our webpage or check out The Negotiator, the Division’s quarterly newsletter.