Mediation is a perfect solution for crowded courts

May 06, 2014

Statistics show that only about 5 percent of the population in any given year ever sees the inside of a courtroom unless their job or a case that hits close to home brings them there, which is a good thing.

The best situation possible is for all people to follow the law, get along with their family or neighbors and contribute in a positive way to society.  But there are times when this doesn’t happen, which is why the legal system exists.

The legal system in this country has many, many good points, but it also is lethargic, cumbersome and stretched to the max with too many cases and not enough time or personnel to slog through them.

That’s why mediation makes such good sense.

A group of three veteran volunteer mediators in Haywood who have a combined 50 years of experience in the field offered a great birds eye view of the mediation process in a story in Monday’s edition.

Lee Finger, John Scroggs and Peggy Smith have closed more than 2,800 cases simply by listening and then offering reasonable solutions for consideration.

That’s a lot of court time — and court costs — avoided through the years.

It also underscores the importance of mediation.

Many of the cases handled in the courts involve tragic situations — cases that involve children where feuding parents only complicate a situation or differences that pit neighbor against neighbor, making for an uncomfortable living situation.

When those cases are settled through the courts, each side lawyers up and the battle lines are locked in. Most often, court cases end up with a winner and a loser.

In mediation, win-win results are at least possible.

When all parties in a dispute listen, talk and then find a solution that might not be perfect, but is something they can live with, everyone wins.

The cynical among us would contend there are those who profit from prolonged court battles, and point to this as a reason common-sense solutions elude us. It is a pity the state has slashed funding for the volunteer-based mediation programs. The mediation system has proven its value, even if the involved parties are the ones who foot the bill.

Savvy legislators looking for innovative ways to reduce the state’s court costs just might want to give mediation a second look, and taxpayers who are fed up with politics as usual just might want to give them a nudge.