Q. What is the purpose of the Appellate Mediation Program?
A. To attempt to amicably resolve appeals early in the appellate process and thereby save the parties’ time, expense, and uncertainty.
Q. What cases are eligible for mediation?
A. All final civil appeals (including family law cases) originating in the District, if all parties are represented by counsel, are eligible for mediation.
Q. How will cases be selected for mediation?
A. If a case meets the threshold requirements for mediation (final civil appeals with counsel on all sides), the parties will receive a mediation questionnaire to complete and return to the Mediation Coordinator of the court. Each questionnaire shall be reviewed by either Judge William D. Palmer, Judge Kerry I. Evander, or Judge Jay P. Cohen, to decide if that case will be sent to mediation.
Q. Can the opposing counsel/party view my mediation confidential statement?
A. No. The mediation questionnaire and the confidential statement will be placed in a confidential folder in this Court and will not be viewable by the opposing party/counsel. The documents will show on the online docket as having been filed, but the contents will not be viewable.
Q. How will the mediators be selected?
A. The court has an approved list of mediators, consisting of mediators certified by the Florida Supreme Court as either circuit civil mediators, family mediators, or dependency mediators who have taken specialized appellate mediation training sponsored by the court. The parties shall first be given the opportunity to mutually select a mediator from the approved list to mediate their case. In the event the parties do not agree on a mediator, the court shall randomly assign a mediator from the list.
Q. How will the mediation be conducted?
A. The mediator shall coordinate the time, place, and procedures for the mediation, including the filing of any mediation summaries.
Q. How will mediation affect the appellate time frames?
A. The parties will receive an automatic extension of all deadlines upon receipt of the mediation questionnaire from the court. In the event the court orders the case to mediation, all appellate deadlines will be tolled for up to 45 days until the mediation is completed, unless there is an approved extension of time for special circumstances.
In the event that the case is not accepted for mediation, all deadlines will begin to run from the date of the letter informing the parties that the case has not been accepted for mediation.
Q. What will be the cost of mediation?
A. If the parties jointly select their mediator, they will agree with the mediator on an hourly fee, to be equally divided between the parties. Mediators will bill the parties directly and the parties shall be responsible for payment directly to the mediators. In the event the parties do not agree on a mediator, the mediator randomly selected by the court will be paid by the parties at the rate of $200 per hour, to be equally divided between the parties.
Q. What if a party cannot afford mediation?
A. In the event the mediation fees would cause undue financial hardship for a party, a statement to that effect signed by party and by counsel shall be filed with the mediation coordinator of the court, in which event a mediator randomly selected from the panel will conduct the mediation without payment by that party.
Q. What if mediation is not successful?
A. If mediation is unsuccessful, the appeal will proceed in the usual fashion. The court shall not be informed of any of the discussions which occurred in mediation (all such conversations being confidential and privileged), but only that mediation was unsuccessful.
Q. What happens if mediation is successful?
A. Upon successful completion of mediation, the court will dispose of the case as appropriate in that particular case. Disposition of the case might involve dismissal of the appeal, remand to the trial court for approval of a settlement agreement which requires court approval, or entry of a stipulated order called for by the mediation agreement.
Q. Who do I call if I have questions about the mediation program?A. Call the court’s mediation coordinator at: (386) 947-1530.