Effective September 1, 2011, the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, launched a mediation program that enables selected civil appellate cases to be mediated before a sitting Justice of the Court of Appeal. The program, which is available at no cost, provides parties with an early opportunity to resolve their dispute in a convenient venue with the assistance of an experienced appellate jurist.
The goal of the program is to identify cases that may benefit from early appellate mediation, thereby reducing costs for the litigants and our taxpayer-funded court system.
Local Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal, Fifth Appellate District, is the governing rule under which the Mediation Program was enacted and operates. The Rule requires 1) that preparation of the appellate record be stayed, 2) specifies who must attend the mediation, and 3) in appropriate cases authorizes sanctions for failure to comply with Rule 2. Local Rule 2 can be found under “Forms & Rules” on this website.
Pursuant to Local Rule 2, parties that file a notice of appeal in a civil case are required to complete a screening questionnaire to be filed with the court. The questionnaire will elicit information to evaluate the case’s suitability for mediation and will not become part of the record on appeal. Factors considered in selecting a case for the program include the size of the record, the complexity of the legal issues, whether the parties indicate mediation might be helpful, and other circumstances unique to each case. Completed questionnaires are to be submitted to the court electronically via TrueFiling.
Once a case is selected for the mediation program, the mediation date will be set promptly. The parties must provide a Confidential Mediation Statement for the Justice Mediator several days in advance of the scheduled mediation date. After mediation, the Confidential Mediation Statement will be destroyed to ensure continued confidentiality and the Justice Mediator will not be involved in any subsequent proceedings relating to a case that does not settle at mediation.
Previously, the court conducted settlement conferences when all parties requested one by stipulation. The court will continue to consider stipulated requests for mediation made by all parties in pending appeals.