Efficient and Successful ADR in Appellate Courts - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 62, No. 3
Nicole L. Waters, Ph.D., a senior court research associate, has been with the Research Division of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), in Williamsburg, Virginia, since 2000. Current work at the NCSC includes examining the policy and social implications of jury procedures, investigating the reciprocal interplay between science and the law, and evaluating issues of civil justice at both the trial court and appellate court levels. Dr. Waters is on the faculty of NCSC’s educational division, the Institute for Court Management, and is an adjunct faculty member at The College of William and Mary and the University of Delaware. Michael Sweikar, J.D., M.A., was a Thomas Jefferson Scholar at NCSC from 2005-2006. Among other things, he worked on the NCSC’s 2005 Civil Justice Survey of State Courts and investigated issues related to ADR. Prior to this, he was a researcher at the British House of Commons. He also participated in several studies in conjunction with the Carter Center, CARE, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
In an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of appellate court-sponsored ADR programs, this article analyzes whether the ADR referral process and characteristics of court ADR programs contribute to the ability to resolve disputes. Analyzing data derived from 706 appeals in 19 appellate courts, the authors found no correlation between successful outcomes and cases referred to ADR based on case-level facts. However, successful outcomes were best achieved where there was greater court supervision of and involvement in the ADR programs. In such programs, ADR saved time and cost.
(Funding for the data collection portion of this project was provided by BJS under Award Number 2004-BJ-CX-K005. Legal research was made possible through Lexis-Nexis.)
Recent data indicate that the number of federal and state court trials across the nation is declining1 and that court-sponsored alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs are on the rise. But how effective are these settlement efforts and what leads to successful ADR outcomes?
The primary objectives of ADR programs are to promote settlements, save resources and create just outcomes. Typical evaluations of ADR programs measure the quality of mediators, report the frequency with which programs produce successful settlements, and identify unintended consequences from the programs. In this study, we analyze different criteria that could have an effect on success rates of court-sponsored appellate ADR programs: First, we examine the criteria that state intermediate appellate courts employ to screen general civil appeals. Second, we assess how many appeals that have been referred to ADR result in successful outcomes. Third, we evaluate the characteristics of the most successful programs.