June 15, 2006 Regular News Court wants comments on the new guidelines for certified mediators Court wants comments on the new guidelines for certified mediators The Florida Supreme Court has amended the Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators and issued a new administrative order on mediators and the mediation process, pursuant to recommendations from its Committee on Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy.The court did change some of the committee’s recommendations, and retained a requirement that certified circuit mediators also be Bar members. However, the court asked the Bar and the committee to make further comments on that provision.“The committee filed its proposals in response to a charge. . . to undertake a review of the qualifications for mediator certification and to make recommendations to the court regarding amendments to the Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators,” the court said May 11 in its unanimous per curiam opinion.The changes address mediator qualifications, standards of professional conduct, and discipline. The main alteration, contained in the new administrative order, creates a point system for qualifying mediators.“The new point-based requirements outlined in the administrative order are designed to replace the current mandatory education/profession-based requirements contained in the rule with a more flexible point system based on training, education/experience, and mentorship,” the opinion said.Those applying must garner 100 points from those categories to become mediators.In a footnote, the court said mediators certified before the August 1 effective date of the new rules and administrative order do not have to meet the point system’s requirements as long as they maintain the other requirements of their certification.“According to the [committee’s] petition, the practical effect of this new point system is to remove the more formal mandatory education and professional-based requirements, for example, the current requirement for a family mediator of a masters, doctorate, medical, or law degree, or certified public accountant license, and to allow applicants to obtain certification in a variety of different ways more directly related to the actual skills and experience the committee has determined to be necessary for service as an effective mediator.”The system will apply to county, family, circuit, and dependency mediators. The court, though, said it was reluctant to drop the requirement of a law degree or being a retired judge from any U.S. jurisdiction to be a circuit mediator, noting only one lawyer had commented against such a change and that the Bar did not comment on that proposal.The court asked the Bar to file a comment on that recommendation by August 9, and gave the committee 30 days past that date to respond. In the meantime, the court said it would maintain the requirement that circuit mediators be attorneys or retired judges, although it recognized the committee made several cogent arguments for dropping that requirement.The court also asked the committee to examine the administrative order and see what parts could be incorporated into the rules.Other changes include requiring mediators to report any criminal convictions within 30 days, clarifying confidentiality of a mediation and when information may be revealed, and adding “unduly influencing” parties to the things a mediator may not do during a mediation.The court acted in In Re: Petition of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy Committee on Amendments to Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, case no. SC05-998.The complete opinion, amended rules, and accompanying administrative order can be found on the court’s Web site at www.floridasupremecourt.org.
Previous Post: Tom Suozzi Running for Nassau County Executive…Again