Russ Bleemer is the editor of Alternatives, as well as this compilation. He oversees the Monday Night Law Program, a free weekly legal clinic dealing with self-representation issues, for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Committee for Legal Services for Persons of Moderate Means, and is a former chairman of the committee.
The long-running Rojas case, now in the California Supreme Court, is giving the mediation profession a chance for self-examination. The results are unexpected new positions on mediation confidentiality.
[Editor’s Note: The case has been decided since this article was written. This article and the two articles that follow outline the facts, history and possible future path of the mediation confidentiality issues raised by the case.]
The Southern California Mediation Association, a 14-year-old professional group of about 500 mediators, which has an administrative office in Tustin, Calif., created a stir in May 2003, by filing a brief in the case. A banner on the organization’s home page at www.scmediation.org labeled the SCMA position a “Courageous Stand Against Conventional Wisdom in Mediation World Essential to Preserving Mediation Integrity.”
Others, including a former president of the group, aren’t sure that the brief is a good idea. The SCMA’s friend-of-the-court brief backs an appeals court decision forcing owners of a Los Angeles apartment complex to turn over photographs the owners and developer argue are protected by mediation confidentiality laws. The brief suggests a new way to interpret a California Evidence Code provision on mediation confidentiality that would limit absolute protections.