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First District Court of Appeals Launches Mediation Program: Collaborative Program Empowers Parties to Design Their Own Outcome to a Dispute

CINCINNATI – The First District Court of Appeals for Hamilton County is pleased to announce the launch of its new appellate mediation program, part of a series of innovations undertaken to expand access to the Court and better serve Hamilton County citizens.

The Court has hired Sarah M. Foster to serve as its appellate mediator and coordinate the mediation program. She is a graduate of Chase College of Law and the University of Kentucky. She comes to the Court of Appeals from the Warren County Common Pleas Court, General Division, where she served as a magistrate, staff attorney, and mediator for nine years and developed its court-sponsored mediation program. Her trial court experience gives her a unique perspective of the judicial system that she will use to assist parties at the appellate level. As the Court’s mediator, she will guide participants through thoughtful discussions designed to help them explore creative options for case resolution.

Judge Pierre Bergeron, the Court’s Administrative Judge, shared the Court’s enthusiasm about this new program: “Our new mediation program represents part of our efforts to innovate and serve the community better, as it can help parties avoid the delay and expense of continued litigation. Sarah will be a tremendous resource for the parties appearing before our Court, and we are excited as she gets to work.”

Appellate mediation has numerous benefits for litigants. Often, by the time a case reaches the Court of Appeals, those involved may feel battle-weary from months or even years of litigation. If an appeal is successful, this often just means another trip to the trial court for more of the same. If the appeal is unsuccessful, the case may be destined for yet another appeal to the Supreme Court. Mediation offers an alternative avenue, by providing participants with the opportunity to work together to design their own outcome to the dispute, rather than the court deciding who wins and loses. Even if a case does not settle in its entirety, appellate mediation often streamlines the appeal by clarifying issues, addressing procedural problems, and reducing assignments of error, thereby saving time and money.

Court Administrator Julie Kahrs Nessler added: “We are thrilled to offer the mediation program to those appearing before our court. Not only will it allow potential early resolution to cases, but mediation provides the unique opportunity for the parties to control the outcome. The timing of the program is especially important as courts throughout the State brace for an increase of filings as a result from the pandemic. We are excited to join the other appellate courts in Ohio in providing this alternative dispute resolution option.”

Many appellate courts across the state and country have successful mediation programs, and the First District has studied those experiences as a guide to developing its own process. With certain exceptions, all civil cases, domestic relations cases, and original actions are eligible to be selected for the Court’s mediation program. Foster will screen cases for eligibility upon the filing of the notice of appeal and will schedule cases for a mediation screening conference. Alternatively, parties may file a request for mediation or the Court may order a case to mediation. Cases referred to the mediation program are eligible to be placed on a stay for up to 60 days while the parties pursue resolution.

Join us for an Ohio Women's Bar Association online event, Ohio Women in Defense and Aerospace Law on December 2, 2021 from 9:00-10:30 AM ET.  This learning event will highlight government, civilian, active duty, and private sector attorneys, their legal careers in defense and aerospace, and how their work impacts the mission of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 
     Panelists include Ms. Suzanne Sumner, Partner, Government Contracts Group at Taft Law; Ms. Alana Kitchen, Deputy Chief, Labor and Employment Law Division, 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Ms. Stephanie Burris, Acquisition Attorney, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Maj. Kristin Carl, Department of the Air Force's Environmental Law and Litigation Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Ms. Juli McCammon, Chief of Information Law and the Magistrate Court Program, 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio and moderator, Ms. Sabra Tomb, Attorney-Advisor, Air Force Research Laboratory.

For more information or to register, click here.

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