This post shares another finding of our study of 578 cases that were mediated as part of the Cobb County Superior Court’s ADR program in the 2006 – 2007 time frame.
There are 10 active Cobb County Superior Court judges. Our data sample of mediated cases was sorted by the judge assigned to the case to determine the rate at which their cases settled in mediation. The results can be illustrated graphically.
Based on our data, the judge presiding over the case does have an influence on the settlement rate. Cases in our data sample settled at an average rate of 53% in our data sample.
In the Cobb Superior Court ADR Program, cases are automatically referred to a mandatory ADR process based on the elapse of a certain amount of time (usually 1 – 2 months) after the complaint is answered. Because the process is largely administrative, it is unlikely a particular judges “positive” or “negative” sentiments about mediation explain the varying settlement rates when their cases are mediated in this program. It is more likely that these judges indirectly influence the rate at which their cases settle in mediation through their case management. For example, it might be expected that how pre-trial motions are handled before mediation and the expectation of an imminent trial play a role in whether mediation parties will be able and willing to reach settlement at mediation.
It should also be noted that Judge Kell (Judge #10) was appointed to the Cobb Superior Court after the mediation sessions that compose our data sample occurred. Only active cases where mediation resulted in impasse, partial settlement or continuation of settlement were re-assigned to Judge Kell when he took the bench in late 2007.
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