Mediation and Arbitration

The Civil Mediation Program is a voluntary court-approved program designed to deliver high-quality affordable mediation services to attorneys and litigants in general civil cases. Mediation gives litigants a voice in settlement decisions and thereby allows participants to play a more direct role in managing the outcomes of their own cases. The court is pleased to offer this important and valuable option for the resolution of litigation.

Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is mediation?

Mediation is an informal, confidential, flexible, and non-binding process in which an impartial person called a “mediator” helps the parties to understand the interests of everyone involved, and their practical and legal choices. The mediator helps the parties to:

  • Communicate better,
  • Explore legal and practical settlement options, and
  • Reach an acceptable solution to the dispute.

The mediator does not decide the dispute but helps the parties communicate so they can try to settle the dispute themselves. Mediation leaves control of the outcome with the parties.

Why mediate?

  • Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process.
  • Mediators do not give legal advice and will not judge you on your case.
  • Mediation could SAVE you TIME and MONEY if it is used early.
  • Mediation reduces conflict and hostility, whereas trials may increase these feelings.
  • Mediation provides high satisfaction with results because you participate and express your personal interests and concerns.

What types of cases may be appropriate for mediation?

Mediation may be particularly useful when parties have a relationship they want to preserve. So when family members, neighbors, or business partners have a dispute, mediation may be the alternative dispute resolution process to use.

Mediation is also effective when emotions are getting in the way of resolution. An effective mediator can hear the parties out and help them communicate with each other in an effective and non-destructive manner.

What types of cases may not be appropriate for mediation?

Mediation may not be effective if one of the parties is unwilling to cooperate or has a significant advantage in power over the other.

What is San Joaquin County Superior Court’s voluntary Civil Mediation Program?

San Joaquin County Superior Court was recently awarded a grant through the California Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) to implement a formal civil mediation program that will allow attorneys and clients involved in general civil litigation greater access to affordable high-quality mediation. Litigants will have a voice in the settlement process and will play a direct role in managing the outcomes of their own cases.

The Civil Mediation Program is a voluntary program that allows parties to a general civil case the freedom to resolve their conflict in their own time. The Court provides a panel of skilled mediators trained by Pepperdine University Law School’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. All mediators serving on the Court’s Panel must meet minimum training and experience requirements.

Which cases qualify for mediation?

All types of general civil cases qualify and may benefit from the mediation process. Parties may request or stipulate mediation at any point in the case.

Who are the mediators?

A mediator is an experienced attorney who has completed a court-approved formal mediation training program or has met the training and experience requirements as set for by the Court. See our Court Panelist.

How is a mediator chosen?

Parties choose a mediator who is mutually agreeable based on the mediator’s experience, market rate, etc. Parties are not required to select a mediator from the Court Panelist.

Who pays for Mediation?

The Civil Mediation Program is a party-pay program, which means the parties who use the program must pay for it themselves. Parties pay the market rate of their selected mediator. Generally, the mediator fees are split equally among the parties. Each mediator’s market rate is published on the Court Panelist or you may contact the Program Manager.

Mediators should be contacted regarding other charges and fee policies. For those parties who might have difficulty paying for mediation services, financial assistance is available through the program after an income-based screening is completed.

Effective March 2012, a number of mediators on the panel offer free mediation services (the number of hours mediated for free varies). For those parties interested in selecting a mediator who offers free mediation services, please contact the Civil Mediation Program Manager at (209) 992-5266. The case must be a San Joaquin County Superior Court case.

Who attends the Mediation?

The mediator, the attorneys, and the parties must attend the mediation. Both sides must have at least one person present who has the authority to settle the case.

What if the Mediation is not successful?

If the mediation does not resolve the dispute, the case will proceed to a settlement conference, if necessary.

What are the program procedures? (Refer to Local Rule 3.125 for more detailed procedures)

Payment- The Civil Mediation Program is a voluntary, market rate program. Fees are generally hourly and split equally among the parties.

Stipulations- In accordance with Local Rule 3.125H all parties going to mediation must complete a Stipulation and Order to ADR form and file it at the Clerk’s Office. An original and a copy for the court’s use shall be submitted. There is no filing fee for the filing of the stipulation. An incomplete stipulation will be returned to the parties by the Clerk’s Office.

If filing the Stipulation Prior to an Initial Case Management Conference- To stipulate to mediation prior to the initial case management conference, parties must file a completed stipulation at least 10 days before the scheduled case management conference. The clerk will send notice of a new case management conference date approximately 120 days from the current date to allow time for the mediation process to be completed.

If filing the Stipulation Following a Case Management Conference- When parties come to an agreement at a case management conference to utilize mediation, they have 21 days from the date of the case management conference to file a Stipulation and Order to ADR with the court [Local Rule 3.125C.1.].

Post-Mediation Session Evaluations- Local Rule 3.125H.1. requires submission of Post-Mediation Survey within 10 days of completing any court-connected mediation session regardless of the outcome of the case mediated. Evaluations are to be completed by attorneys and clients. A copy of the Post-Mediation Survey is attached or can be found on the court’s website. Completed evaluations shall be returned to the Project Manager.

Where can I get more information about mediation?

More information about mediation can be found at California Court.

For more information about the Court’s voluntary Civil Mediation Program, please contact:

ADR Team
(209) 992-5693
The ADR team is prohibited from providing legal advice.