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Dispute Resolution Services for Federal District Court Cases


Introduction

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require litigants to consider alternative dispute resolution while litigating civil matters in federal district courts. The Northern District of Georgia has enacted an Alternative Dispute Resolution Program to provide alternative processes for the resolution of civil disputes with resultant savings in time and costs to litigants and to the court, but without sacrificing the quality of justice or the right of litigants to a full trial in the event of an impasse following ADR. The program and the procedures established thereunder are intended to comply fully with the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998. 28 U.S.C. s 651 et seq. See N.D.Ga. LR 16.7(A).

The Northern District of Georgia does not operate a court-annexed ADR program. A court-annexed program has not been funded by Congress. To help district court litigants resolve pending matters, The Center for Legal Solutions offers dispute resolution services specifically designed for cases pending in the Northern District of Georgia.


ADR Consideration at the Early Planning Conference

Prior to filing their Preliminary Report and Discovery Schedule, lead counsel for all parties are required to confer in person in an effort to settle the case, discuss discovery, limit issues, and discuss other matters addressed in the Preliminary Report and Discovery Schedule. Counsel for the litigants in civil cases are required to discuss utilization of an ADR process at the Early Planning Conference. This local rule applies to all cases assigned to the 4- and 8-months discovery tracks. This Conference shall comply with the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f). See N.D.Ga. LR 16.1.

If counsel wish to participate in ADR, counsel shall immediately so notify the judge to whom the case is assigned in writing, specifying which ADR process is desired and whether they desire to participate in the court-annexed ADR plan or otherwise. If counsel decide against participation in an ADR process at this time, this decision must be reported in the Preliminary Planning Report. See N.D.Ga. LR 16.2.


Settlement Consideration at Conference After Discovery

Lead counsel and a person possessing settlement authority for each plaintiff and each defendant are required to meet in person no later than ten (10) days following the close of discovery to discuss, in good faith, settlement of the case. For cases not resolved sooner, counsel shall again consider participation in ADR at the required Conference After Discovery. If this Conference does not produce a settlement, the status of settlement negotiations must be reported in the pretrial order. See N.D.Ga. LR 16.3. The assigned judge must be notified immediately in counsel wish to participate in an ADR process.


Confidential Request for ADR Referral

In any case in which all counsel do not support participation in ADR, individual counsel may provide the judge confidential notice, in writing, of that counselē—“ desire for ADR. The judge will then make a determination as to whether the case should be included in the ADR program. See N.D.Ga. LR 16.7(D).


ADR Processes Authorized in N. D. Ga.

  • Mediation
  • Early Neutral Evaluation
  • Non-Binding Arbitration
  • Binding ADR Processes. Upon the consent of the parties, the judge may refer any civil case to binding arbitration, binding summary jury trial or bench trial, or other binding ADR process.

Judicial Referrals to ADR

A judge may in his or her discretion refer any civil case to a non-binding ADR process. See N.D.Ga. LR 16.7(B)(1). A judge may authorize use of an ADR process that is facilitated by individuals or programs not connected with the court. See N.D.Ga. LR 16.7(B).

If you have questions about The Center for Legal Solutions that are not answered on this web site, feel free to e-mail your question to questions@centerforlegalsolutions.org and we will do our best to respond within 48 hours.

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sample MODEL NORTHERN DISTRICT MEDIATION GUIDELINES -- Based on N.D.Ga. Local Rules for ADR

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The Center for Legal Solutions, Inc.
A Georgia Non-Profit Organization
www.centerforlegalsolutions.org
Phone: 678-404-ADR1(2371)