The week of October 17-23 has been designated as Conflict Resolution Week in North Carolina. Mediation is a form of conflict resolution in which the parties meet with an impartial and neutral person who assists them in the negotiation of their differences. Parties may participate in mediation prior to litigation or after the commencement of litigation or even on appeal. Unlike many states, in North Carolina, mediation is available at the Court of Appeals. The Appellate Mediation Project was established in 2002.
"Our Court of Appeals Mediation Project is designed to allow civil appellate litigants an opportunity to resolve their dispute before having to expend additional funds to brief and to argue their cases," said Chief Judge Donna Stroud. "In fact, the appellate deadlines are stayed during the pendency of the mediation."
Where all parties agree, their pending case may be submitted to mediation, which is provided free of charge by the Court. Most mediations are conducted by one of the Court’s certified appellate mediators, who are all sitting Court of Appeals judges. Alternatively, the parties may select their own private mediator if they prefer.
Mediation is now offered both in person in Raleigh and remotely via Webex. The judge who conducts the mediation will not serve on the panel hearing the case if the mediation is unsuccessful.
"The parties in many cases are taking advantage of our mediation program, and the rate of success has been high," said Chief Judge Stroud. "It’s a very effective tool to resolve cases and end litigation."
At the Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Stroud and Judges John Arrowood, Jeff Carpenter, Toby Hampson, April Wood, and Valerie Zachary currently serve as mediators. They have received training in mediation and are certified by the Court as appellate mediators.