From the Director:
Juvenile Justice in the Spotlight
We hope you had a
terrific 2011 holiday season! We’re back to our monthly publication
schedule after three months furiously processing applications during
renewal season. Thanks to all of you who renewed your registrations.
From the feedback we received, the vast majority of people found the
online renewal system quick and easy to use. All complete renewal
applications submitted by the year-end deadline have been processed.
We’re processing late applications as quickly as possible.
started 2012 with a bang. I’m proud to announce that on January 12
the Commission on Dispute Resolution voted to create two registration
categories for juvenile mediation – delinquency mediation and
deprivation mediation. The new rules include training requirements as
well as grandfathering provisions for registered mediators who are
already handling juvenile cases. By approving these rules, which take
effect May 1, the Commission has recognized that juvenile cases
require specialized mediation training and handling. We’ll have more
information for you in our March and April newsletters.
weeks after the Commission voted on the new juvenile mediation rules,
Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein delivered her
2012 State of the Judiciary speech. She highlighted the
groundbreaking work of the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform
– a joint effort of the three branches of government to rethink
Georgia’s over-reliance on incarceration. It is based on three
premises: 1) Georgia’s criminal justice policies cost the state $1
billion a year, and that’s too much; 2) warehousing low-risk,
non-violent offenders who may be addicted to drugs or mentally ill
make them more dangerous to society; 3) public safety is best
protected when we understand the causes of crime, hold offenders
appropriately accountable and reduce recidivism.
Most timely from my
perspective was the Chief Justice’s call for the legislature to
support parallel reforms in the juvenile justice system, for similar
public safety reasons. In her speech, she likened youth detention
centers to “incubators for adult crime,” exposing children to
prison-like levels of violence and abuse. Moreover, she cited
research that shows that incarcerating youth provides no public safety
benefit and fails to reduce recidivism, and thus wastes tax dollars.
What children – and juvenile court judges – need are options other
than youth detention that get kids the help they need to get back on
the right path of life, she said.
“Amen!!” I shouted
from the gallery of the House chambers (in my imagination).
“Mediation can help with that!!” The fact is that mediation is an
ideal process for developing creative and productive solutions and
treatment options that address the core issues of why a child
committed a crime. Mediation allows the stakeholders in a child’s
welfare – parents, school officials, law enforcement, counselors,
advocates, guardians ad litem, even the victims of crime – to
work together to develop rehabilitation plans that can be tailored to
each child’s unique needs. We call that “restorative justice,”
because such a comprehensive, collaborative approach to juvenile crime
restores the victim, restores society, and restores the child onto the
path to a more productive life.
The Chief Justice
made a final point about the effects on justice of years of budget
cuts. Erosion in state and county funding has left the courts
“perilously close” to failing their constitutional mandate to “provide
for the speedy, efficient, and inexpensive resolution of disputes and
prosecutions.” Despite the grim news, I took pride in knowing that
our ADR system is doing its critical part to keep the courts
operating. If our courts are
“the emergency rooms of society,” as the Chief Justice said, then the
ADR system is the first critical step in caseload triage. The
system diverts appropriate cases from trial and lets the courts focus
their limited resources on those cases that truly require the
intervention of judge or jury. The system settles between 20,000 and
25,000 civil cases a year, at a fraction of the cost of trial. By
doing so, the system saves taxpayers millions of dollars a year. And
ironically, it does this without a penny of direct state support.
Morokuma, Director, GODR
Verification of Lawful Presence Required
Under the new Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 (O.C.G.A.
§ 50-36-1(e)), all people applying for registration, registration
renewal or registration reinstatement with the Georgia Office of
Dispute Resolution starting January 1, 2012, must verify their lawful
presence in the United States.
Therefore, as of January 1, 2012, before your registration can be
issued, renewed or reinstated you are required to:
a copy of a secure and verifiable document issued to you by a
state or federal jurisdiction or recognized by the United States
government and that is verifiable by federal or state law
enforcement, intelligence, or homeland security agencies.
A listing of acceptable secure and verifiable documents, as
determined by the Office of the Attorney General, Georgia, can
be found at the Attorney General’s website under “Key Issues,”
then “Immigration Reports,” or directly at this link:
a signed and sworn affidavit verifying your lawful presence in
the United States.
affidavit to use for this purpose can be found at the GODR
website under “Forms and Applications” or directly at this link:
Information and forms have also been appended to downloadable
and online application forms.
Deadline is April 30, 2012
The on-time period for the 2011 renewal season ended December 31,
2011. We are now in the late renewal period. Renewal fees are now
double your normal, on-time fee. If you do not renew by April 30,
2012, your registration will become “inactive,” and you will not
longer be eligible to handle court-connected cases. Inactive
registrations can be reinstated for up to two calendar years from your
last renewal date, so in this case until December 31, 2013.
Registrations that are not reinstated by that date will become
archived, and those interested in re-registering will have to take
training all over again.
Complete instructions and renewal materials are available at
www.godr.org. Check your information by logging into your neutral
account. Find login instructions
The renewal application will be entirely online except for payment,
which can be made by check/money order or online by credit card via
PayPal. You do not need to have or open a PayPal account to pay your
fee through PayPal.
Continuing Education: All renewing neutrals must submit
3 hours of continuing education. The CE you submit must have been
taken since your last renewal or since you first registered, whichever
came later. Carryover hours cannot be used.
and CJE qualify as neutral CE. Information on what
qualifies as CE and how to earn CE can be found under
“Help! I Need CE!” at
Renewal Fee: The base late renewal fee $250.
For neutrals registered in domestic relations mediation the late
renewal fee is $300. You can pay by check/money order
or online by credit card via PayPal. You do not need to have or open
a PayPal account to pay your fee through PayPal.
If you are a volunteer neutral – that is, you receive no
compensation, no matter how small, providing ADR services within or
outside a court program – you and your court-connected program
director can submit a sworn affidavit with your renewal application to
have your fee waived this renewal season.
be considered a volunteer, you must have provided ADR services to a
Georgia court program in the past year. 2011
volunteer affidavits can be downloaded from
“Forms and Applications” at
Background Check Authorization:
The GBI requires that GODR have hand-signed permission from each
neutral before we run background checks. GODR has begun using a new
long-term authorization form that eliminated the need for neutrals to
authorize us by signature each time. Once we have your long-term
authorization, you will never have to submit another background
check authorization again for as long as your registration status
Most neutrals have already sent us their long-term authorizations. If
you have not done so, please download, sign and send us the form,
“Forms and Applications” at
www.godr.org. Your renewal application cannot be processed
without authorization to complete the background check.
More Information: Renewal instructions and information
here on our website.
Most neutrals will be able to complete paperless renewals this
season. If you have documents to send us, we can accept them via scan
and e-mail, fax or mail. When mailing anything important to us, we
strongly recommend that you use a service that provides tracking and
delivery confirmation (certified mail/return receipt, Priority Mail,
UPS, FedEx, etc.)
If you have questions about renewal, please e-mail us at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 404-463-3788.
New Child Support Project Director Hired
family-law attorney Alice Limehouse has been hired as the new director
of the Georgia Child Support Collaborative Project and staff attorney
to the Georgia Child Support Commission. She succeeds Jill Radwin,
who died in late September 2011 after a long illness (see the October
issue of BeNeutral:
Great news for Georgia neutrals: Limehouse is a registered neutral in
general civil mediation, domestic relations mediation, and specialized
domestic violence mediation. A 2003 graduate of Georgia State
University College of Law, she has practiced family law most recently
as of counsel at
Senterfitt & Knight, LLC. She is
trained as a guardian ad litem and certified as a Collaborative Law
“The role of well-trained and informed mediators is critically
important in resolving divorce matters,” Limehouse said. “I am
delighted for this opportunity to help mediators and lawyers ensure
that Georgia children receive the proper amount of child support under
the law.” Limehouse welcomes mediators’ questions about child
her contact information:
Alice W. Limehouse
Staff Attorney to the Child Support Commission/ Collaborative Child
Support Project Manager
Administrative Office of the Courts
244 Washington Street, S.W., Suite 300
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
GODR MEMBER BENEFIT SPOTLIGHT –
3 Simple Reasons not to ignore Disability insurance
Your income stream can be your most valuable asset, but most people
ignore disability insurance and purchase coverage for items of lesser
We don't hesitate to purchase life insurance, insure our homes, our
cars and other valuable possessions. So why would you not insure
something that can be infinitely more valuable than all those things?
Your income stream. 90% of wage earners rated their "ability to
earn an income" as "valuable" or "very valuable" in helping them
achieve long-term financial security - wage earners perceive their
ability to earn an income as even more valuable than retirement
savings, medical insurance, personal possessions, other forms of
savings or their homes.2
2) Suffering a disability is more likely than you'd imagine.
• 64% of wage earners believe they have a 2% or less chance of being
disabled for 3 months or more during their working career.2 The actual
odds for a worker entering the workforce today are about 30%.1
• Just over 1 in 4 of today's 20 year olds will become disabled before
3) It doesn't have to cost you a fortune.
A group Long Term Disability insurance plan available through the GODR
programs, offers flexible benefit choices that allow you to customize
your benefits to your needs and affordability level, allowing each
member the ability to own at least some amount of disability
insurance. Group rates are available for individual members.
Learn More about the Group Plan >
Social Security Administration, Fact Sheet March 18, 2011
Council for Disability Awareness (
If links in this email are not working, please visit
Products sold and serviced by BPC Financial, the administrator of the
Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution (GODR) Insurance Programs. GODR
is not a licensed insurance entity and does not sell insurance.
CaseWatch for Mediators:
Who Gets the Kids When Both Parents are Good Parents?
When two divorcing parents, both of them seemingly capable and fit,
are fighting for custody of their children, the court’s decision on
the matter may turn on some seemingly insignificant facts. In this
month’s CaseWatch for Mediators, Mary Ellen Cates, divorce attorney
and registered mediator, analyzes a Georgia Supreme Court case that
helps to illustrate why parents should work hard in mediation to make
such critical family decisions under their own control, rather than
leaving them to the court.
CaseWatch for Arbitrators: Mandatory Arbitration Agreements &
Class Actions: The Latest Word
In the Concepcion case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that
states cannot limit the ability of parties to sign arbitration
contracts that require them to waive their rights to file class action
lawsuits. Recently, in the Horton case, the National Labor
Relations Board ruled that employers cannot require employees to sign
arbitration agreements that limit their right to file class actions.
So who’s right? In this month’s CaseWatch for Arbitrators, John
Allgood, Esq., veteran attorney, registered mediator and arbitrator,
explains the apparent conflict between the Concepcion and
Practice Tip: How to Manage the “Animal Brain” in Mediation
Neuroscientists tell us that we have at least two brains – a more
primitive “animal brain” or amygdala, and a more modern prefrontal
cortex. (I know, I know, some people appear to have no brain
whatsoever.) It turns out that the interplay of these two brains can
create problems at the earliest stages of a traditional mediation. In
this edition of Theory to Practice, Heather Pincock, assistant
professor of conflict management at Kennesaw State University,
highlights research that illuminates the problem – and some solutions.
Should You Still Be Using Printed Collateral ?
when any new practice would start their marketing efforts with a
letter of introduction, custom glossy brochure, and other printed
collateral. In our new electronic world are printed materials
still valid ? In this month's Marketing Tip, marketing maven
Michele Gibson of Digital Smart Tools shows you how to effectively use
printed materials to market your practice. You might be
Job Openings: JAMS
Atlanta and More
JAMS, which claims to be the world’s largest private ADR
provider, is seeking a full-time business manager for its Atlanta
office. See the posting and apply here:
We also stumbled across this
listing of open ADR positions nationwide:
Seminar on Child and Parent Issues in Divorce
Psychologist and author Joan B. Kelly, Ph.D., an internationally
recognized expert on child and family conflict in divorce, custody and
access matters, will be leading a weekend seminar, “Best
Practices: Understanding Child Relocation, High Conflict Parenting and
Parental Alienation,” March 22 - 24, 2012, at The King
and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island. The seminar, sponsored by the
Ninth Judicial Administrative District ADR Office, is geared toward
mediators and will offer 14 hours of continuing education credit for
Georgia neutrals. Cost for the seminar is $275 for Ninth Judicial
Administrative District ADR office members ($325 after 2/15/12), and
$300 for nonmembers ($350 after 2/15/12). A block of rooms at the
resort has been set aside for $199 each per night.
more information and registration, contact Valerie or
Patricia at 770-535-6909, or visit
Resources for Georgia ADR Professionals
We encourage you to visit the
blog created by Georgia State University law professor Doug Yarn
and GSU law student Alex Salzillo to inform and encourage discussion.
Please add it to your reading list, send the link to your colleagues,
and visit often. The address:
don’t forget the
Georgia Mediators Network, a great Facebook resource for the
latest mediation news and articles from around the world. The page
has been visited tens of thousands of times in just the few short
months it’s been around. Use the information there to pump your own
professional web pages and your expertise. The Georgia Mediators
Network is the brainchild of registered mediator Michele Gibson, our
marketing columnist and newsletter producer.
‘Fairly Legal’ back in
The popular (and controversial among ADR types) television show
“Fairly Legal,” in which the lead character is a recovering lawyer who
has become a mediator, is back for a second season on USA Network.
(Did I just hear you snark that ethically the show’s name should be
“Barely Legal”?) Catch the season premiere Friday, March 16, 2012, 9
pm eastern time.
Commission Meeting in
The next meeting of the Commission on Dispute Resolution is scheduled
for Thursday, March 8, 2011, at the specially set time of 11 am, in
Meeting Room 1 of the
State Bar of Georgia Conference Center, 104 Marietta St. NW,
Atlanta, GA 30303. Meetings are open to the public. Upcoming
Commission meetings, agendas and minutes are always posted on our
Insurance Products for Registered Neutrals
Georgia-registered neutrals are entitled to participate in several
insurance and retirement programs that have been designed specifically
for them. If you need insurance, are planning for retirement, talk to
the experts at
BPC Financial. They manage our new exclusive insurance and
retirement program, and they can advise you on your insurance needs
and help you find good deals on major medical insurance, healthcare
savings accounts, dental and vision insurance, term life insurance and
more. Registered neutrals receive the benefits of underwriting
concessions, enhanced benefits, or reduced premiums and fees compared
to shopping for similar products on the open market. Check out the
GODR Registered Neutrals Insurance and Retirement Programs website.
We’ve also arranged for special benefits on professional liability
insurance for registered mediators and arbitrators with
Complete Equity Markets. See our
website for more information or contact
Betsy Thomas, 800-323-6234, ext. 472, and tell her you’re a
Georgia registered neutral!
Upcoming CE and
Check frequently at our
website for the latest CE and training offerings. Remember, any
ADR-related training you take counts as CE as long as you took it
since your last renewal or your initial registration, whichever comes
later. Lawyers, any CLE you took during that same time period counts
as CE. Likewise, judges and CJE. Accountants and other professionals
with CE requirements, same thing.
And remember, we posted two videos on our website that registered
neutrals can watch for free to earn CE credit. Each video is one-hour
long. Neutrals are free to watch the videos as many times as they
wish, but we can only award 1 CE hour credit for each video once a
renewal season. Please note the date you finished viewing each video
so you can report it on your renewal form. Remember, registered
neutrals are required to take at least 3 hours of CE each year in
order to renew their registrations. Look for the link,
“Continuing Education Videos,” in the main menu of our website.
For more information on what qualifies for CE, please see the
“Help! I Need CE!” link on our website.
Back Issues Available Online
is sent monthly to all registered neutrals, generally at the beginning
of the month. If you missed an issue, our back issues are posted at
the bottom right of our website, under
“Newsletter Archive.” Please take a look. If you know people who
want Be Neutral, please direct them to our subscription box at
the bottom right of our
website, where they just need to enter their e-mail addresses.
Please forward this newsletter to anyone who might be interested in
ADR in Georgia courts. Forward it just as you would any other
e-mail. If folks who are not registered neutrals want to receive the
newsletter free of charge, they can submit their e-mail addresses in
the subscription box at the bottom right of our
website. And sending us feedback is easy – just reply to this
e-mail as you would any other e-mail. We want to hear from you!
Spread the Word
Please forward this newsletter to anyone who might be interested in ADR in Georgia courts. Forward it just as you would any other e-mail.
If folks who are not registered neutrals want to receive the
newsletter free of charge, they can use the subscription box at below this
text or submit their e-mail addresses in the
subscription box at the bottom right of the home page of our
website. And sending us feedback is easy – just reply to this
e-mail as you would any other e-mail. We want to hear from you !