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Bar News - October 14, 2011

Opinion: Mediation Not Always the Better Solution

Editorís note: The Sept. 29 edition of the Keene Sentinel published an editorial, titled: "Mediation may be a solution when court staffs are cut, but not always." The editorial noted that the courts are sometimes finding innovations to cope with budget cuts. In part, the paper wrote:

"There are other silver-lining opportunities in these hard times. One seemingly promising arena is the court system, where reductions in staffing and delays in process have turned some peopleís attention to mediation. "Conceptually, thatís an immensely appealing prospect. By its very nature, mediation is a friendlier venue for conflict resolution than an adversarial court system, and we hope that more people consider it as an option.

"But it would be wrong for political leaders to count on private justice to take over where, as The Sentinelís Sarah Trefethen reported this week, state funding has left judgeships and other key staffing positions vacant in this and other parts of the state, and delayed the delivery of justice.

"Thatís partly because no one is required to go to mediation. In a civil law contest where one side can win out by letting matters drag on and on, itís actually an advantage to let the hearing calendar run into next year, and even the year after. And some divorce situations are so toxic that mediation canít possibly do the job, ultimately leaving some couples unable to split up and leaving them without formal child support agreements.

"So, there can be a tarnish to this one silver lining. The politicians behind the budget cuts that inexcusably delay justice to Granite Staters should demonstrate sensitivity to that."

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