Today is the first day of Mediation Week in California.
The state Judicial Council, the governing body of the California court system, officially declared at a meeting in San Francisco on Friday that Mediation Week would be observed on March 15-21.
California Chief Justice Ronald George, who chairs the council, said, "Mediation programs offer the public an important alternative to resolving disputes outside the traditional adjudication system."
George added, "Mediation Week is an opportune occasion to educate the public about the availability and benefits of mediation programs, and to recognize the people who make those programs successful."
Mediation is defined as a dispute resolution process in which a neutral third person aids parties in a lawsuit in reaching a voluntary and mutually acceptable agreement without a trial.
California trial courts, also known as superior courts, operate and collaborate with mediation programs to help people resolve disputes in a number of areas, including family law, juvenile dependency and delinquency, and criminal, civil and small claims cases.
More information about mediation can be found on the state court system's Web site at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/adr/index.htm.
The site offers brief video clips describing the four most common types of alternative dispute resolution of lawsuits. The four processes are mediation, arbitration, neutral evaluation and settlement conferences.
Also available on the Web site are links to information about alternative dispute resolution programs available in 24 counties.
The Judicial Council's declaration coincides with similar annual actions by the governor, the State Bar and some local courts recognizing the third week in March as Mediation Week.