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NCJ Number: 76712 Find in a Library
Title: Go-between - Mediators at Neighborhood Justice Centers Resolve Disputes Without Assigning Guilt
Journal: Student Lawyer  Volume:38  Issue:5  Dated:(March 1980)  Pages:38-40,57-59
Author(s): G Pick
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The development and activities of Neighborhood Justice Centers (NJC'S) and other mediation programs THAT try to resolve minor disputes outside of court are described, using Chicago's Uptown-Edgewater NJC as a primary example.
Abstract: Dozens of dispute centers now operate across the country to settle everything from noise complaints to major felonies through mediation and sometimes even arbitration. The Uptown-Edgewater NJC had its genesis in 1977 when a lawyers' committee researching ways to improve local small claims courts became enthusiastic about the possibilities of mediation. With funding from foundations and the Chicago Bar Association, the Uptown-Edgewater NJC opened in 1979. Its mediators are not lawyers but community residents who undergo training from the American Arbitration Association (AAA). The mediation center has been more effective than small claims courts in handling disputes between community residents who know each other and can expect some type of future relationship. Their accessibility and methods help reduce lingering animosities THAT can ultimately result in violent confrontations. Most lawyers are grateful to be relieved of unprofitable minor dispute cases, and the AAA concludes that mediation cuts court costs, trims caseloads, and reduces recidivism. The principal advantage of mediation is that it delves to the root of PROBLEMS rather THAN simply deciding guilt or innocence. Although mediation is new to the United States, it has been applied elsewhere, particularly in communist countries. The AAA launched the first U.S. mediation center in Philadelphia in the late 1960's which was followed by others in Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; and Miami. Following a 1976 speech by Chief Justice Burger on the need for alternative methods of settling minor disputes, the American Bar Association (ABA) sponsored a task force THAT recommended that the ABA help establish NJC'S around the country. The ABA special committee on resolution of minor disputes estimates that 96 dispute resolution centers now exist, mostly in big cities. Some NJC'S are tied directly to judicial agencies while others are sponsored by the AAA or bar associations. All cost nothing to clients. Types of cases handled include landlord-tenant disputes, consumer complaints, and family quarrels. Centers often discourage hiring lawyers or a lawyer's participation in their sessions because legal training is not consistent with the aims of mediation. All mediators face problems in listening to clients without comment and remaining impartial. Proponents of mediation contend THAT, although dispute programs may be slow to develop, their impact over the long term will be significant. No references are cited.
Index Term(s): Arbitration; Dispute resolution; Illinois; Mediation; Neighborhood justice centers; Small claims courts
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