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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.

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Join us for an Ohio Women's Bar Association online CLE event on February 23, 2022 from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM ET.
     Women have been caught between the work front and the home front for years and now, we have an increasingly elderly population on one end of the spectrum and a generation of children on the other.  Sandwiched in the middle are the 40-to-59-year old Americans who are responsible for both their parents’ and their children’s well-being.  This middle cohort is growing.  Nearly half (47%) of adults between 40-59 years old care for an elderly parent.  Between 2016 and 2060, it’s expected that the number of Americans ages 65 and older to increase by 92%.  According to AARP Public Policy Institute, family members are “the single largest source” of support to the elderly population.  That care falls into three categories: financial support, domestic support and emotional support.  Even if elderly parents do not depend financially on their children, many depend on them to manage their bills.  Women in the sandwich generation are disproportionately burdened by the financial, domestic, and emotional dependencies of their family members. To explain why that is, we need to apply the gender lens to three contributing factors: pay equity, unpaid labor, and labor force participation.  This 90-minute panel discussion, hosted by the Ohio Women’s Bar Association and the Toledo Women’s Bar Association will provide information as to why women are disproportionately burdened and how to avoid or mitigate some of the challenges faced.  Participants will also receive a post-event deliverable with resources and information that will assist those facing the care of parents.

For more information or to register, click here.

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