Alternative Dispute Resolution for the 5th JD

 

Statewide Policy

It is the policy of the Unified Court System to encourage the resolution of civil legal disputes by methods including mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation, in-court settlement practices, and summary jury trials. All civil actions or proceedings heard in the Supreme Court, Court of Claims, County Court, Family Court, Surrogate’s Court, District Court, City Court, and New York City Civil Court shall be presumptively eligible for early referral to an alternative dispute resolution process unless otherwise excluded. Courts may refer parties to an ADR process at any time after an action has been commenced and are encouraged to do so at the earliest appropriate opportunity.

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ADR

ADR CONTACT INFORMATION

If you have a case pending with the court or are looking for more information about ADR please contact:

Anthony C. LaValle
ADR Coordinator
Court Attorney Referee
ADR Coordinator Fifth Judicial District
alavalle@nycourts.gov

Marie M. Robeson,
Court Assistant to ADR Coordinator
Fifth Judicial District
mrobeson@nycourts.gov

Bridget M. O’Connell, Esq., JD/MSW
Court Attorney Referee
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge’s Office
for Courts Outside New York City
Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator
New York State Judicial Districts 5,6,7,8 & Court of Claims
25 Delaware Avenue, Room 543,
Buffalo NY 14202
Boconnel@nycourts.gov

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ADR Plan in the 5th Judicial District

Courts in the 5th Judicial District are committed to finding innovative and cost-effective ways of resolving matters and assuring positions and interests are explored at the earliest appropriate opportunity. Alternative Dispute Resolution is available in the Supreme Court for Civil, Commercial and Matrimonial matters, in the Family Court for Custody and Visitation matters, in Surrogate’s Court, and in City Court Small Claims, Commercial Claims, Civil and Landlord-Tenant matters.

Court staff, rosters of private mediators and the local Community Dispute Resolution Centers are all available to assist participants to find resolutions. If you have a case pending with one of the above courts within the Fifth District, or if you are looking for more information about ADR, please contact the court in which your case is pending or the 5th Judicial District’s ADR Coordinator (See Contact Information, below).

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Summary of 5th Judicial District ADR Plan

Implementation of the 5th District’s ADR Plan is summarized in the following Flow Charts:

 

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Permanency Mediation

The Fifth Judicial District implemented permanency mediation in its Family Courts following enactment of Family Court Act § 1018. This program utilizes specially trained consultant mediators to mediate permanency matters stemming from child welfare cases pending before the Family Courts.

Individuals who wish to learn more about this program, including how to become a consultant mediator, can find more details here or refer to the Contact Information below.

 

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Rosters of Approved Neutrals

There are several sources from which neutrals, including mediators and arbitrators, may be identified:

  • The NYS Office of Court Administration hosts a searchable, statewide, database of outside neutrals who have either met the training and experience requirements of Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge or who have been provisionally approved by the respective Administrative Judge for each District in which they are listed. This database is available here.
  • Not-for-profit organizations known as Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs) provide free or low-cost mediation and other ADR services. A CDRC operates in each of the Counties within the 5th Judicial District. A directory of CDRCs is available here.
  • Certain Court staff may be available to assist parties. For more information about this option, please see the Contact Information for the Fifth Judicial District ADR Coordinator below.

 

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Call for Mediators and Neutral Evaluators

The 5th Judicial District serves a wide variety of litigants, including persons of varying age, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, religion, socioeconomic and family status. The 5th Judicial District’s ADR Program recognizes that neutrals with a wide variety of cultural and life experiences enrich the alternate dispute resolution process by bringing diverse perspectives to resolving disputes. To accomplish these goals, it is important that the 5th Judicial District’s ADR Program Rosters attract and retain neutrals who represent a range of personal and professional backgrounds who can, thereby, better serve and instill confidence in participants in the alternate dispute resolution process. To that end, qualified applicants of all diverse backgrounds and experiences are encouraged to apply for admission to the ADR Rosters in the 5th Judicial District.

 

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Mediator Requirements

The Administrative Judge shall establish, and the ADR Program Coordinator shall maintain, a roster of trained mediators ("The Roster") for the Program. To be eligible to join the Roster as a Mediator, a person shall satisfy the training and experience requirements of Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge as follows:

All Court Roster Mediators shall have received at least twenty-four (24) hours of basic mediation training, sixteen (16) hours of additional training in the specific mediation techniques applicable to specific subject areas of the types of cases referred to them. In addition, all Court Roster Mediators shall have recent experience mediating actual cases in the subject area of the types of cases to be referred to them. Mediation experience can be achieved by mediating at least three (3) Court cases in a New York State, or Completing a Court Mediation Apprenticeship.

A Court Mediation Apprenticeship shall include observing at least one (1) mediation, regardless of case type, co-mediating three (3) Court cases in the subject area of the types of cases to be referred to them and debriefing all observations and mediations with a court roster mediator or ADR Program Coordinator; and evaluation by a court roster mediator or ADR Program Coordinator.

All Court Roster Mediators must attend six hours of approved Continuing Education relevant to mediating in their respective practice areas every two years.

Fulfillment of these requirements does not guarantee acceptance onto the Roster. Final placement on a Roster or continuation on a Roster is in the discretion of the District Administrative Judge under Part 146 of the Rules of the Chief Administrator.

 

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Mediator Application

To become a 5th District Roster Mediator, please:

(1) Submit the Statewide application online, and

(2) Submit one or more of the following Supplements to the 5th District’s ADR Coordinator:

 

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Compensation of Mediators

  • Mediation may not commence without the parties signing a written document agreeing to fees and corresponding services to be performed. Mediators who have been appointed to the Roster of Qualified Neutrals for the Fifth Judicial District shall be required to provide the first hour of preparation time at no charge. If necessary, and agreed to in writing, the Mediator may charge $150.00 per hour for up to two additional hours of preparation time for matters which require substantial preparation. Mediators shall receive $150.00 per hour for the first two hours of the initial mediation session. Should the mediation be concluded after the initial mediation session, the parties shall have no further financial obligation to the Mediator under this program. Thereafter, Mediators shall receive no more than $325.00 per hour for additional time spent in mediation as agreed to by the parties in writing. If the mediation session is cancelled by any party less than 48 hours prior to the scheduled mediation session or fails to appear at the scheduled mediation session, the cancelling or non-appearing party shall be responsible to compensate the Mediator a fee of $250.00, in addition to any preparation time.
  • Parties who choose to select their own mediator, who is not on the Fifth Judicial District’s Roster, must negotiate the fee directly with that mediator.
  • Mediators shall require that counsel and/or parties sign an agreement confirming the terms of retention and compensation in advance. Time spent in travel by mediators is not reimbursable under this program unless the parties consent to cover travel costs.
  • Mediator fees shall be divided equally among all separately represented parties, unless otherwise agreed or ordered by the Court. Mediator fees shall be paid by the parties within fourteen (14) days of the conclusion of mediation.

 

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Contact Information

Local Contacts:

Anthony C. LaValle
ADR Coordinator
Court Attorney Referee
Fifth Judicial District
401 Montgomery Street, Room 400
Syracuse, NY 13202
Email: alavalle@nycourts.gov

Marie M. Robeson
Court Assistant to ADR Coordinator
Fifth Judicial District
600 S. State St, Room 300
Syracuse, NY 13202-3099
E-Mail: mrobeson@nycourts.gov

Sue Shafer, Coordinator
Child Permanency Mediation Program
Fifth Judicial District
sshafer@nycourts.gov

State Contact:

Bridget M. O’Connell, Esq., JD/MSW
Court Attorney Referee
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge’s Office
For Courts Outside New York City
Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator
New York State Judicial Districts 5,6,7,8 & Court of Claims
25 Delaware Avenue, Room 543
Buffalo NY 14202
boconnel@nycourts.gov

New York State Unified Court System Office of Alternative Dispute Information

 

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