Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
361 Rowe Boulevard
|For Immediate Release||CONTACT:||Rita Buettner
The new Baltimore County program allows Chief Judge Theresa A. Lawler and Associate Judges Julie L. Ensor and Gloria J. Butta to refer certain cases to mediation. Under the pilot program, those involved in an eligible probate case have the option of going through a voluntary two-hour mediation session with the ability to extend it if they choose. If everyone agrees to mediation, a trained neutral party, or mediator, assists the parties in working toward an agreement that can keep the case from going to trial. Unlike a public court case, mediation proceedings are confidential, with the parties splitting the $150 per hour cost.
“Mediation generally is less expensive than having to go to trial and sessions may be scheduled at mutually convenient times; consequently mediation may save the parties time and money,” Judge Lawler said.
The Baltimore County program came to fruition thanks to a grant from the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office and support from the Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers. Other assistance came from the Maryland State Bar Estates and Trusts Section Council and the Baltimore County Bar Association Estates and Trusts and ADR Sections.
Baltimore County’s program was modeled after the program at Baltimore City’s Orphans’ Court, which was officially launched in 2004 after more than a year of training. Although Montgomery County has made mediation available in probate cases through its circuit court mediation program since 2000, the Baltimore City Orphans’ Court was the state’s first traditional three-person orphans’ court to refer cases to mediation. So far, more than a dozen cases have been settled through mediation in Baltimore City.
Orphans’ Courts are specialized courts that have jurisdiction over the administration of estates of the deceased.
“Some of our cases that have gone to mediation have been through the courts two or three times for a variety of reasons,” said Chief Judge Joyce Baylor-Thompson, of the Baltimore City Orphans’ Court. “Mediation is the perfect venue for preventing similar cases from occurring because it helps people talk and get to the root of the problem.”
For more information, please contact the Court Information Office at (410) 260-1488.
# # # # #