Jefferson County announces Settlement Week

David Yates Sep. 1, 2008, 9:12am

Settlement Week is all about timely, cost effective justice. On Monday, Sept. 15, Jefferson County's Settlement Week project begins.

Plaintiffs in more than 30 cases avoided the courtroom and took advantage of Jefferson County Settlement Week last year to resolve disputes.

For the past 18 years, the Jefferson County Settlement Week has provided citizens with a timely and cost-effective way to resolve disputes, organizers say.

Dozens of residents took advantage of the opportunity during the 2007 Settlement Week.

"It has been a great week," Bonnie Dean, director of the Jefferson County Bar Association, said about last year's settlement week. "We have had about a 70 percent settlement rate."

Settlement Week is an annual project co-sponsored by the Jefferson County Young Lawyer's Association and the Dispute Resolution Center of Jefferson County and authorized by Jefferson County civil courts.

During Settlement Week, attorneys in selected cases will be ordered to appear with their clients "for the purpose of engaging in meaningful settlement negotiations before a court-appointed attorney mediator," stated a JC announcement.

"We request that you review your pending cases in the Civil District Courts, Civil County Court at Law and/or District Family Courts and submit an enclosed data form for each case you feel is appropriate for mediation during Settlement Week."

The event will kick off at 8:30 a.m. in the lobby of the new section of the Jefferson County Courthouse. Its purpose is to encourage the early settlement of cases pending litigation in Jefferson County through mediation.

What happens?

Attorneys with cases in Jefferson County are asked by the presiding courts to review their case files and submit lawsuits appropriate for mediation to the project. The Dispute Resolution Center develops the week-long docket from the cases submitted.

The goal is to help parties find satisfying solutions and reduce the courts' backlog and costs by mediating as many cases as possible during Settlement Week.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a confidential problem-solving negotiation process conducted by local attorneys trained in mediation. The mediator's job is to help disputing parties clarify issues and evaluate options for solutions.

Mediators for Settlement Week will not impose rulings or give legal advice, but will assist parties in evaluating their case and exploring settlement options. The attorneys volunteer their time to make this low cost project work.

The first Settlement Week in Texas was held in 1987 in Tarrant County. The first Settlement Week held in Jefferson County was in the spring of 1990 under the leadership of the Young Lawyers Association and the Dispute Resolution Center of Jefferson County, Inc.

During the 2006 Settlement Week a total of 36 cases were received. These lawsuits involved personal injury damage involving motor vehicles and other personal injury damage, business/commercial and family matters. There were a total of 26 Attorney Mediators donating their time.

Citizens who believe their case may benefit from mediation can call their attorney to discuss the idea of submitting their case to this county project.

For more information, call 409-835-8647, or send an e-mail to

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