CMS educates the public, the legal profession and the judiciary about the value of mediation and how it effectively, efficiently, and fairly resolves conflict, by providing excellent mediation services to litigants and their attorneys in the civil divisions of Denver’s County and Small Claims Courts. CMS mediators are dedicated, trained, and experienced mediators who must meet certain requirements and follow certain guidelines in order to be able to mediate for CMS.
A principal goal of CMS is to educate the public and the legal community concerning the use of mediation in solving disputes. The CMS philosophy is founded on the belief that by demonstrating mediation’s effectiveness to those who are active participants in disputes, lessons illustrating mediation’s success are better understood.
CMS also seeks to demonstrate - to the public and the legal and dispute resolution communities, the effectiveness of communication and cooperation in resolving disputes. CMS does this, in part, by promoting a facilitative style of mediation and communication between the parties.
The project began on February 13, 2001. It relies in large part upon the nominal fees collected for some mediations.1 It is staffed and operated by trained and experienced mediators.
CMS provides mediation services to the civil divisions of the Denver County Courts and Small Claims Courts at 1515 Cleveland Place in all cases in which the amount in dispute is less than $15,000.00. The majority of CMS’s cases come from Denver’s Small Claims Court and a majority of the cases involve less than $2,500 in dispute. CMS operates in four courtrooms: 2, 3, 4 and 5. Courtroom 2 is small claims. Courts 3, 4 and 5 are county courts.
CMS operates with the express approval and assistance of the County Court Judges and Magistrates under the guidance of the Presiding Judge.
Fees for Services
CMS mediators charge nominal fees to the litigants in cases in which the amount in dispute is in excess of $2,500.00. The nominal fees are paid by cash or check payable to the DBA. Of the total amount collected on such cases, 50% is paid by the DBA to the mediator(s) who handled the case and 50% is retained by the DBA to defray the expenses of CMS. Some mediators defer their portions of the fee, choosing to contribute it to the DBA for the CMS program.
To sign up to mediate for CMS, mediators need to go to the CMS calendar, which is located on the CBA website. Detailed instructions on how to sign up on the web calendar are provided in the CMS guidelines and materials.
Schedule and Location
Mediation services are provided by CMS on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings during the school year, and every morning during the summer and other times that the DU law school is not in session. During the school year DU law students are present to mediate on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Effective February 19, 2008, CMS instituted a pilot program whereby mediators approved to do solo mediations for CMS may sign up to mediate cases on the courts’ 1:30 p.m. dockets. These opportunities are available every afternoon from Monday through Thursday starting at 1:30 p.m. They are not available on Fridays.
All of the above mediations are conducted in conference rooms and jury rooms on the fourth floor of the Denver County Court facility at 1515 Cleveland Place. The Small Claims Court operates from Monday through Thursday. The County Courts operate Monday through Friday.
CMS mediations generally take at least 2 hours. Mediators should have at least two hours available before they agree to mediate a particular case. When a settlement is reached, a written Resolution Agreement or Stipulation is prepared and signed by the parties and their counsel (if any) and then reviewed and approved by the Court. If no resolution is reached, the parties return to Court for a judicial resolution of the matter. In addition to any resolution agreement, the mediators prepare two additional documents in each case: 1) an Agreement to Mediate, signed by the parties, their attorneys (if any), the mediators and any one else who is present during the mediation and 2) a short Confidential Case Report.
No mediation is ever conducted without first obtaining a signed Agreement to Mediate. The original signed Agreement to Mediate is maintained in CMS’s files.
University of Denver College of Law Mediation Program
The University Of Denver College Of Law operates a County Court mediation project using law students who also mediate in the civil divisions of the Denver County Court. This program is not active during the summer months. During the school year DU law students are present to mediate on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. CMS co-ordinates its efforts and works closely with Professor Jeffrey Hartje, who for many years has headed the DU project and with the law students.
Solo and Co-Mediations
Mediations are done in teams or individually. A team consists of two mediators: usually one is an experienced CMS member and one is a mediator who is new to the program. Please see the CMS Guidelines for further information and requirements on solo and co-mediations.
Amount in Controversy
The jurisdictional limit of the County Court is $15,000. The limit in Small Claims Court is $7,500. Most cases filed in these Courts involve far less than the jurisdictional limits.
Mediators must have completed a recognized course in mediation (preferably 40 hours, 30 hours minimum). Mediators must attend orientation meetings and other required training and are encouraged to participate in reflective practice (formerly peer-review) sessions. Prior to signing up to mediate, each mediator must submit written evidence of prior mediation training along with his or her resume or CV.
CMS relies upon volunteers for the operation of its program. Due to the volume of requests for mediation opportunities, CMS has determined that it can provide mediation opportunities to mediators who have not been approved to be lead mediators as of February 11, 2008 only if they are willing to make a commitment to CMS. This commitment requires that mediators agree to do one of the following: a) satisfy all requirements necessary to become an approved lead mediator for CMS and be available to serve as a lead mediator at least once a month for 12 months once they have been so approved; or b) provide other time commitments and services approved in advance by CMS’s director and co-chairs. Any person who has not already satisfied these requirements or been approved to be a lead mediator for CMS as of February 11, 2008, agrees, by signing up to mediate for CMS, that they will meet this commitment.
Reflective Practice Review (formerly Peer Review)
Mediators participate in periodic CMS reflective practice (formerly peer) review sessions, and are encouraged and may be required to attend continuing training meetings and CBA ADR Topical Luncheons at which speakers address issues regarding ADR. CLE credits are sometimes available.
Other Benefits to Mediators
Mediators are eligible to attend monthly luncheons hosted by the CBA/DBA ADR Committee. All mediators are invited guests to these luncheons, and are encouraged to become members of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations and their ADR sections.
CBA/DBA Court Mediation Services Project
1. The Denver County Courts provide reimbursement for mediators’ parking and light rail charges.