In most civil appeals and all original actions involving public record requests, the court schedules a mediation conference to encourage and facilitate the settlement and resolution of the dispute. This is an informal and confidential process where a
court mediator facilitates communication and negotiation between the parties with the goal of them reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute. Even if the parties do not reach a settlement, the conference also serves as an important stage
to help simplify the issues and to identify any issues with the record or the court’s jurisdiction.
Below are some commonly asked questions that may assist you in better understanding and preparing for your mediation prehearing conference.
- What local rule governs the court’s prehearing mediation conference?
Local App.R. 20 sets forth the procedures and requirements for the mediation prehearing conference in the Eighth District Court of Appeals. Please make sure to consult the rule upon notice of your conference date.
- When and how will parties be notified of the date for a prehearing mediation conference?
The court sends out both an order from the court and a letter, notifying counsel or self-represented individuals of the date and time of the conference as well as counsel or self-represented individual’s requirement to submit a Mediation Statement Form. In civil appeals, this notice is generally sent out within 21 days of your filing of the notice of appeal. Likewise, the same time period generally applies in original actions for public records — 21 days after the filing of your complaint. The court seeks to schedule the conference as soon as possible as a means to limit the cost and energy expended in preparing a brief.
- What is a Mediation Statement Form and when must it be submitted?
A Mediation Statement Form is a confidential form that must be completed by each parties’ counsel or by themselves if self-represented. The form is due within ten days of receipt and must be mailed or emailed directly to the court mediator. Do not file the form with the clerk of court. The form is not shared with the opposing side and reviewed only by the court mediator to help facilitate a resolution.
- Do all parties and their counsel have to appear in person for the prehearing mediation conference?
Yes, counsel and parties (including insurance adjusters) are required to attend in person. If a hardship exist that precludes a party from participating in person, counsel must submit a motion in writing requesting the client’s participation by telephone. Also, be aware that participation in Loc.R. 20 prehearing mediation conference is mandatory and that failure to appear may result in sanctions.
- What if an unavoidable conflict arises with the scheduled date and time?
If you need to reschedule because of a previously scheduled appearance or unforeseen emergency, please file motion requesting a continuance or call Megan O'Toole at (216) 443-4809. Alternative dates and times will be provided to you. It is the duty of the rescheduling attorney to contact all other counsel on the case to arrive at a mutually agreeable date and time and then promptly notify Megan O'Toole of the rescheduled date and time.
- What preparation is required for the prehearing mediation conference?
Apart from timely submitting a Mediation Statement Form, counsel or self-represented individuals need to be prepared to discuss the facts of the case, procedural problems, and legal issues. Counsel or self-represented individuals should also be open to exploring a range of possible resolutions to the case.
- What takes place at the prehearing mediation conference and how long does it last?
All the parties and their counsel (unless self-represented) will meet with a court mediator in Room 135 on the first floor of the Old Courthouse, 1 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. While Loc.R. 20 mediation conference procedures are official proceedings of the court, they are conducted in a relatively informal manner with the court mediator facilitating discussions that are typically more conversational than argumentative. Although the conferences are scheduled for a one-hour block of time, the court mediator will allow the conference to go beyond one hour if needed to accomplish the purposes of the mediation.
- Do the Judges of the Eighth District Court of Appeals know what transpires at Loc.App.R. 20 prehearing mediation conferences?
The judges do not participate in the prehearing mediation conferences and are not told what substantively has transpired at the appellate mediation conference. Any settlement discussions or negotiations which have taken place are not revealed to the court. If no agreement is reached, the case is absolutely unaffected and the matter proceeds accordingly.
- Are parties allowed to disclose to third parties matters discussed in the mediation?
No. Mediation communications are confidential, and no one shall disclose any of these communications unless all parties and the mediator consent to such disclosure. There are certain exceptions, such as parties sharing mediation communication with their attorneys or communication related to criminal activity. All exceptions are listed in Loc.App.R. 20.
- If I have a question regarding the prehearing mediation conference, what can I do?
Please call the court’s Office of Conference Attorneys at (216)348-4809 and your question will be directed to the appropriate court personnel.