Mediation is a process that seeks to resolve disputes through the intervention of a trained mediator without pursuing a matter through the courts to trial and conviction. The mediator encourages discussions between the parties to help them reach an agreement they can both accept. The types of complaints sent to mediation generally include citizen complaints involving disputes between individuals or groups. These are commonly referred to as “neighborhood disputes”. Not all complaints can be referred to mediation. For example, motor vehicle matters and criminal matters cannot be resolved using the mediation process.
Mediation offers benefits including: establishing early, direct communications and understanding between the parties about the important issues of each side; the result may benefit all of the parties and provide a win-win solution; and mediation can be less expensive, more relaxed and a more meaningful alternative to the traditional trial process. Mediation is available in nearly all municipalities and is made possible largely because of the efforts of trained volunteers who are the mediators. As indicated by the Chief Justice, one of the keys to the future of the Municipal Court system, and, indeed, a key to the future of the entire Judiciary, is the continued use and expansion of mediation and other community dispute resolution programs. This grassroots citizen involvement in the administration of justice is a particularly effective means of keeping the Municipal Courts close to the communities they serve.