Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Historically courts are a place where people bring their conflicts. As early as 1850, Abraham Lincoln cautioned about litigation excesses, and advised compromise. "Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser — in fees."
In Court, parties ultimately find a resolution to their conflicts, but in some cases, emotions and hostilities, result in difficult resolutions.
Former Chief Justice Warren Burger, among others, suggested it is the legal system's responsibility to seek the most agreeable solution for both parties. "The obligation of the legal profession is to serve as the HEALERS of human conflicts. To fulfill this traditional obligation of our profession, means that we should provide the mechanisms that can produce an acceptable result in the shortest possible time with the least possible expense and with a minimum of stress on the participants. That is what a system of justice is all about."
Conventional methods such as a trial are a perfectly acceptable means to achieve this goal. However, in 1984, the Superior Court instituted an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program which provides for multidoor access to the resolution of conflict. Under the amended Civil Rule 16 (effective March 1, 2008) every civil case is now subject to compulsory ADR.
The Superior Court's Alternative Dispute Resolution Program enables parties who agree on an ADR type to stipulate to a any of the available three forms of ADR — arbitration, mediation or neutral assessment — to reach a resolution to the parties' controversy. If the parties cannot agree upon a form of ADR, mediation is the mandated form. Today, nearly 85-90% of all cases which are filed never see the inside of a courtroom; those cases which have merit are usually settled for a mutually acceptable amount.