CHCM mediators are a diverse group of citizens, from all walks of life, trained in communication, the art of asking questions and listening to answers, conflict resolution and the mediation process, and all aspects of court protocol. When the Court feels a case might be best handled by discussion of the issues with a trained professional, they refer the case to our program. The mediations are private, voluntary, and completely confidential. The mediator starts every session with a discussion of confidentiality, explanation of ground rules and a little faith...faith that the parties will listen to what the other has to say and contemplate the words and emotions presented. Utilizing their well honed skills, the mediator moves from participant to participant, identifying the issues and gathering suggestions for a resolution. Civil harassment restraining order cases involve neighbors, landlords, property managers, tenants and roommates, personal relationships of all kinds, and many business dealings. Underlying issues often involve drugs or alcohol, mental or physical illness, and lots of misunderstandings, miscommunications and misperceptions. Often there are apologies, tears and plans to reconnect in the future.
Agreements made among the parties, by the parties themselves, result in a dismissal of the request for a restraining order in lieu of this private agreement. Most agreements result in a lasting peace and rarely does a case come back to court. When the parties cannot agree, the case goes back before the judge who will hear the facts from each side and make a ruling in favor of one party or the other. Some cases are not appropriate for voluntary mediation and some cases cannot be resolved through agreement. These cases often involve very deep, difficult and long standing personal and professional problems. The role of the mediator is not to resolve the dispute but rather to get the parties talking, listening, reflecting, and creating a plan for their future interactions. Some agreements are simple: "We agree to stay away from, and not talk to or about, each other."
Our mediators help explain the risks and differences of a voluntary mediation as compared to a court hearing. The judge never tells the mediator how to approach the parties and the mediator never discloses what occurred in the mediation. What is discussed in mediation stays in mediation. This helps ensure that the parties feel free to explore the deep roots of their conflict. Our monthly meetings help mediators debrief, learn new techniques and tools of the trade, and understand how other mediators deal with unusual and complicated situations where the public is in turmoil.
Thank you mediators for your time, energy, thoughtfulness and collective wisdom, which you bring to each case you handle. Most of all, thank you for your tireless efforts and commitment to your community in the form of volunteerism at California Lawyers for the Arts. We, and all of the court participants, appreciate your outstanding work in the name of peace.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer mediator, please contact Teresa Owens
Mediators must have taken mediation training, offered by CLA several times a year (and also offered elsewhere) and then be specifically trained in program protocol.