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Mediator Training

April 11, 2013

By John Bertsche
Originally Published: January 10, 2011

I have served as volunteer mediators for the Small Claims Court.

Volunteer mediators are scheduled at 9:00 or 10:30 AM on alternate Friday mornings at six to eight week intervals. At the time, litigants have a brief hearing with the judge and are offered the opportunity to have their cases mediated, to see if they can arrive at a mutually-agreeable settlement. Inducements include the possibility of same-day resolution, avoiding additional court costs, and being more actively involved in the resolution process.

If the litigant agrees to the suggested resolution, the mediator writes out the terms of the agreement and both parties sign. The agreement is then presented to the judge, and becomes a court order. Should the parties refuse mediation, or if an agreement cannot be reache during mediation, the case is rescheduled for a later date, at which time the judge will impose a settlement. About two-thirds of mediated cases are resolved without this step.

This is one of the first attempts to employ mediation in small claims court in Illinois. The court system has judged it to be very successful. Students from the University of Illinois Law School come from Champaign-Urbana to observe and participate. Because of the success of the program, another four-day training to equip additional mediators is being planned for the near future. If you think you may be interested in participating, contact John Bertsche.

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