Message from the Commission Chair: Welcome Back & Pardon our Progress
like to give a hearty “welcome back” to the Be Neutral
publication. Many of you may have wondered over the past year,
“Where has Be Neutral been?” I can assure you that this valuable
newsletter was not forgotten, but publication was temporarily
deferred while the Office of Dispute Resolution (Office) was under
renovation. While the Office hasn’t externally displayed a
vibrant “Pardon our Progress” sign, I can assure you that
internally, the Commission on Dispute Resolution (Commission) and
Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) have been working
diligently to revamp the Office.
One major transformation can be seen by the Office and AOC
building upon their symbiotic relationship in order to increase
the efficiency and flexibility of both agencies. Long time Office
director, Shinji Morokuma, was promoted to the new role of Program
Director, Office of Certification and Licensing for the AOC, where
he now serves as director for both the Office of Dispute
Resolution and the Commission on Interpreters. In return, the AOC
is providing the Office with a deep pool of valuable resources and
skilled employees in many diverse areas including legal services,
investigations, human resources, registration, budget & finance,
this transition, Shinji and the Office have been innovative
leaders in the implementation of the new online registration
system which is ready for the current registration season. Also,
the Commission has been focusing on meaningful strategic planning
to make sure that both the vision and mission for the future of
the Office are met and are sufficient to help the Georgia Supreme
Court fulfill its Constitutional mandate to “provide for the
speedy, efficient, and inexpensive resolution of disputes and
Fortunately, along the way, Commission member Ray Chadwick was
willing to undertake the initiative to reconstitute the Liaison
Committee to seek to build upon the valuable relationship with
neutrals and to enhance the services provided and value added to
registrants. Thank you to Ray and others for their efforts in
this endeavor and for the much needed revival of the Be Neutral
appreciate your patience while the Commission, Office, and AOC
work to improve this organization and the services provided to
neutrals and to the citizens of this State. I am certain that the
decisions and advances that are being made today within this
organization will be fruitful and worthwhile for many years to
Judge Charles Auslander, Commission Chair
A Message from the Liaison Committee Chair
all registered neutrals and ADR program directors received an email
from me as Chair of the Liaison Committee of the Georgia Commission on
Dispute Resolution in which I asked for comments, questions or
suggestions concerning the Commission and Georgia Office of Dispute
Resolution. Prior and subsequent to my emails, I had telephone
discussions with a number of neutrals and program directors. Some
have sent emails as well. The results are being provided to the
Commission and GODR.
Commission’s Chair, Judge Charles Auslander, wants to ensure that
neutrals and program directors have the opportunity to be aware of the
work and activities of the Commission and GODR. Further, that
neutrals and program directors have open lines of communication with
both. He has asked the Liaison Committee to assist in achieving these
goals. Of course, this is not meant to preclude direct communication
with the Commission or the GODR.
Liaison Committee is working closely with Shinji Morokuma, Director of
the GODR, on a quarterly e-newsletter that will contain articles,
announcements, and other information on various topics. Should you
have anything you would like to submit for further issues please send
it to Shinji or me.
the adage “be careful what you ask for,” I invite you to contact me by
email or telephone with comments, suggestions or questions. My email
address and office number are
firstname.lastname@example.org and 706-823-4250. Shinji’s are:
Shinji.Morokuma@gaaoc.us and 404-463-3788.
2014 Registration Renewal Season in Full Swing
registration renewal season opened on October 1 – a month earlier than
in previous years – so registered neutrals would have to time
familiarize themselves with the new Georgia Court Registrar, which
several judicial branch agencies are using to provide better service
in their certification and licensing functions.
on-time renewal deadline is December 31, 2014. A late fee equal to
your regular renewal fee will apply after that date, so please renew
before the end of the year.
To renew, you must use the new Georgia Courts Registrar to create a
profile, answer a questionnaire, upload your continuing education
form, and pay your renewal fee.
2014 ADR Institute Registration Opening Soon
"Registration will open soon for the 21st ADR Institute and 2014
Neutrals’ Conference, to be held Friday, December 12, at the State Bar
of Georgia Conference Center in downtown Atlanta, from 8:15 am to 3
pm. Come learn about current thinking in the ADR field and network
with friends and colleagues. This year’s conference will again
feature a full roster of dispute resolution scholars and leaders
offering thought-provoking presentations on a wide range of topics."
conference will be live simulcast to the State Bar annexes in Tifton
of CLE (including trial practice, ethics and professionalism hours)
and 6 hours of CE will be available. Early registration fees will
remain as they were last year at $170 for attorneys needing CLE and
$115 for neutrals. On-site registration will be $200 and $145
respectively. The fee includes a boxed lunch and written materials."
NOTE: Due to the closure of the Spring St. viaduct in downtown
Atlanta, the Spring St. entrance to the Bar conference center’s
parking deck is blocked. The only entrance will be from Marietta St.
For more information on the closures and detours, please check the
State Bar’s website."
back under “What’s New” on the GODR website or check the Institute for
Continuing Legal Education’s seminar schedule.
In Depth Articles
Mediator Practice Tips: Child Support Calculators and Worksheets
parties with minor children are required by law to submit a child
support worksheet to the court before being granted a divorce (O.C.G.A.
§ 19-6-15(m)).* Therefore, mediators who neglect to ensure that
parties have completed child support worksheets are doing their
clients an enormous disservice and may be committing malpractice.
Missing paperwork can delay divorces by months, severely disrupt
families, and increase costs. And please make sure that the figures
in the child support worksheet equal those in the mediated agreement
Make it a
habit to check the Georgia Child Support Commission website at least
once a month so you don’t miss out on the latest updates of the child
support calculator. In fact, it is a good practice to start at the
Child Support Commission website when beginning work on any child
support worksheet. Right now you should be using version 9.0, which
was released in July 2014.
need a brush-up on the child support worksheets, the Georgia Child
Support Commission has posted five online tutorials to help you.
exception to this requirement is for protective orders or consent
agreements issued by the court under O.C.G.A. § 19-13-4 to end acts of
CaseWatch for Arbitrators:
11th Circuit Sanctions for Frivolous Allegations of Arbitrator Bias
that an arbitrator was biased, had exceeded her powers, and had failed
to receive evidence were roundly dismissed as meritless and wasteful
of judicial resources by a district court and a federal appeals court
this year. The appeals court emphasized its displeasure with the case
by awarding the respondent, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC, double
its costs against claimants and claimants’ counsel."
Ethical Hurdles to Marketing Your Mediation Practice Digitally
The Internet has been a wonderful invention for sharing information,
and it has made it easier for people – including ADR professionals –
to find the resources they need to succeed. However, as more
opportunities have arisen on the Internet, we've also seen people
misuse digital resources for marketing in ways that could be construed
Open Enrollment for Private Health Insurance Exchange Begins Nov. 15
enrollment period for the private health insurance exchange available
to Georgia-registered neutrals will begin on November 15, 2014, and
will remain open until February 15, 2015. If you are dissatisfied
with the health insurance choices available to you in the public
exchanges, then you may find what you are looking for in the private
www.memberbenefits.com/godr or call Member Benefits at
1-800-282-8626 for more information.
If you do
not enroll during the open enrollment period, individuals will need to
experience a qualifying life event to enroll in a qualified health
insurance plan through the exchange. Below are some guidelines for
how the Special Enrollment Period works:
Members must experience a qualifying life event in order to open up a
Special Enrollment Period. What is a qualifying life event?
* Loss of
Marriage or divorce*
* Move to
a new coverage area*
Involuntary loss of coverage*
* Loss of
between the 1st and 15th of the month: Effective 1st day of following
between the 16th and 31st of the month: Effective 1st day of the
second following month
of the above qualifying life events have occurred, there are still
options that you may want to consider, such as a Short-Term Health
Plan. ? But the easiest solution is to enroll before February 15,
www.memberbenefits.com/godr or call Member Benefits at
1-800-282-8626 for more information about qualifying for a Special
Enrollment Period or Short Term Health plans. "
*Effective date is based on the date of event.
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 three 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.
21st Annual Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute and 2014
9 am – 4 pm
State Bar of Georgia Conference Center, 104
Marietta St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303
Registration information will be posted
Hours: 6 hours
How to Use Mediation Skills in Your Field of
Presenter: PeaceMaker Solutions, LLC
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Location: Mansour Center, 995 Roswell Street
NW, Marietta, GA 30060
Your Mediation Practice in the Digital Era - Ethically,
Efficiently & Effectively
Presenter: Digital Smart Tools, LLC
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The Glenn Hotel
(adjacent to the GA Bar Association)
Share This Publication
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 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 !