It’s Official: Maryland Court of Special Appeals process now includes mediation
Mediation is now a formal part of the appellate process. What does that mean?
Mala Malhotra-Ortiz, Esq., director of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and Tara Lehner, deputy director of ADR, Court of Special Appeals, answered some questions about what mediation is, how the program works, and how it helps the people involved in disputes at the appellate level.
Q. What is ADR?
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term used to describe processes that people use to resolve conflicts without going through formal litigation.
Q. What ADR services does the Court of Special Appeals provide?
- Mediation: Parties work with one or more impartial mediators who assist the parties in reaching their own voluntary agreement for complete or partial resolution of the issues on appeal, in addition to any other issues relevant to the underlying dispute between the parties. In the Court of Special Appeals, all mediations are co-mediated: a staff attorney from our ADR office and a retired judge, all of whom have extensive experience and advanced training.
- Prehearing conference: Parties work with an incumbent or retired Court of Special Appeals judge to discuss the contents of the record and/or record extract, pending prehearing motions, scheduling matters related to the appeal, consolidation of appeals, and any other issue aimed at streamlining the appellate process.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals ADR Office Includes
(left to right):Jay B. Knight, Tara Lehner, Mala Malhotra-Ortiz,
and Holly Slack
PHOTO LYNNE SADLER, MARYLAND JUDICIARY
Q. What kinds of cases are eligible for mediation in the Court of Special Appeals?
Approximately 1,300 civil appeals are filed in the Court of Special Appeals each year, and most of these civil appeals are screened to assess whether they are appropriate for mediation or prehearing conference. The ADR office will consider scheduling a mediation or a prehearing conference in cases that are not automatically screened if it is requested by the parties or their attorneys.
Appeals that are not automatically screened for mediation include:
- Juvenile cases
- Appeals from guardianships terminating parental rights (TPR)
- Applications and appeals by prisoners seeking relief related to their confinement
Q. Why is mediation part of the appeals process? How does it benefit the people involved in the disputes?
- Save time. Mediation at the Court of Special Appeals usually occurs soon after an appeal is filed. An agreement reached through mediation takes much less time than if the case proceeds through a prolonged appellate process.
- Save money. An agreement reached through mediation costs much less than going through the entire appellate process.
- Help people reach lasting solutions. Because the people involved in mediation decide the future of their own controversy, mediated agreements have been shown to be more sustainable than court-mandated resolutions.
Q. How do I get more information?
Parties interested in mediation or a prehearing conference at the Court of Special Appeals may contact the COSA ADR Office at 410-260-3717. For more information about the program and to view our brochure please visit: