The mission of the Mediation Program of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is to provide quality dispute resolution services at the earliest practicable stage. The program is comprised of mediators with a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds, who share the goals of providing parties with opportunities for supported negotiation, exploration of legal and factual issues, creative thinking, and settlement through mediation. The program is an educational resource for the bench, bar, and larger community about the uses and benefits of mediation and other dispute resolution processes. By creating subject-specific protocols, the program evolves in response to the Court's changing docket. The Mediation Program supports the continuing growth and development of professional mediators, and provides opportunities for observation, training, and evaluation for both experienced neutrals and those newer to mediation practice.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution.
In mediation, parties and counsel meet, sometimes collectively and sometimes individually, with a neutral third party (the mediator) who has been trained to facilitate confidential settlement discussions.
The parties articulate their respective positions and interests and generate options for a mutually agreeable resolution to the dispute.
The mediator assists the parties in reaching their own negotiated settlement by defining the issues, probing and assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each party's legal positions, and identifying areas of agreement and disagreement.
The main benefits of mediation are that it can result in an expeditious and less costly resolution of the litigation, and can produce creative solutions to complex disputes often unavailable in traditional litigation.
At the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York the Mediation Program is governed by Local Civil Rule 83.9 and the Mediation Program Procedures. All civil cases other than social security, habeas corpus, and tax cases are eligible for mediation, whether assigned to Manhattan or White Plains. The assigned District Judge or Magistrate Judge may determine that a case is appropriate for mediation and may order that case to mediation, with or without the consent of the parties, before, at, or after the initial Rule 16(b) case management conference. Alternatively, the parties should notify the assigned Judge at any time of their desire to mediate.
The Court periodically develops subject-specific case management and ADR protocols and currently has such protocols for: counseled employment discrimination (non-FLSA) cases, certain FLSA cases and certain § 1983 police misconduct claims. The assigned District Judge or Magistrate Judge may issue a written order exempting a particular case with or without the request of the parties.