Jefferson County civil judges prep for Settlement Week

David Yates Aug. 24, 2009, 7:57am

With September around the corner, Jefferson County's civil judges are busy clearing their trial dockets in preparation for Settlement Week, which begins Aug. 31 and will end Sept. 4.

For the past 20 years, the Jefferson County Settlement Week has provided citizens with a timely and cost-effective way to resolve disputes, helping dozens of plaintiffs and defendants to avoid litigation, the Dispute Resolution Center of Jefferson County states on its Web site.

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

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

The event will kick off at 8:30 a.m. in the lobby of the new section of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

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.

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