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The Court Of Appeals Settlement Conference Program

In 1995 the court adopted ORAP 15.05, which established an Appellate Settlement Conference Program. ORAP 15.05 mandates that a settlement conference be held in cases assigned to the program. The ORAP lays out the respective authority of the court and program director. In addition, the ORAP sets out the abeyance period (120 days), the confidentiality of communications made during a settlement conference, the parties' duty to submit requested information, and the neutral's fee, among other things.

A brief summary of the process followed in a case diverted to the Settlement Conference Program (Program) is as follows:

After a notice of appeal is assigned a case number, an initial screening process takes place. Cases that fall into several general categories, i.e., general civil, domestic relations and workers' compensation cases, are diverted to the Program. Once diverted, the parties to those cases receive a Notice of Assignment to the Appellate Settlement Conference Program and an Appellate Settlement Conference Statement form. The appellant(s) and cross-appellants are required to fill those forms out and return them to the Program Director. The respondents are invited but not required to respond. Once the Appellate Settlement Conference Statement forms are received, a more in-depth screening process takes place.

Either the staff attorney or Program Director will contact the parties and discuss the case in depth. Based upon those conversations and a review of the forms and court documents, a final decision is made whether or not to proceed with mediation. Mediations are generally scheduled where the parties and their attorneys attend, although, on occasion, accommodations are made to allow a party to appear by phone. On rare occasions, parties appear alone with their counsel available by phone.

A small fee is paid by the parties for the mediation. Unless otherwise directed, the fee will be made payable to the mediator.