Mediation and Settlements - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 20, No. 4
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
In a recent article in Cafe and. Comment (Jan.-Feh. 1965), Lee S. Kreindler, Esq., member ot the New York Bar and leading practitioner and lecturer in the trial field, states that "settlement of cases is the very core of our tort system." Though Mr. Kneindler offers a philosophic predicate for his thesis, I rather think the reason is a more immediately practical one. The ever present problem of court congestion has rendered imperative "out-of-court settlements," as they are called. Actually, they are made in court;, often in the court room, either on the eve of trial or during the course of a trial already begun. At other times, they are part of court procedures fashioned in recent years by wise judicial leadership. The recent innovation of "masters" in New York's Civil Court is its latest fruit. The designation of Mr. Justice McNally as supervisory head of this new undertaking is a happy augury for its productivity.
About thirty years ago, I sat at dinner with one of the best known and admired judges of our State. And he told me that he never initiates settlement talks. His view was that if the parties wished to settle, that was their business, not his; his task was to adjudicate, with or without a jury. This was not my approach, I told him. My attitude was that it was the duty of a trial judge to seek an accommodation, if at all possible, of any controversy--be it in tort, in contract, or in equity. I have never changed my ideas. And as a trial judge, it has always been a source of deep gratification tlon to be able to announce to the stenographer: "Please put on the record 'case settled' or 'case settled during trial' or 'case disposed of as per stipulation', etc., etc."