In a hearing on December 1, 2017 lasting one hour beyond the scheduled end time, the California Law Revision Commission (“CLRC”) gave its final approval to the Tentative Recommendation issued in June 2017 to create certain exceptions to mediation confidentiality. Its final approval is subject to the chair and /or vice chair approving further language revisions to proposed Evidence Code Section 1120.5 that were discussed and approved during this four-hour meeting.
At the meeting, the Commissioners took up all of the suggestions and comments set out in Memorandum 2017-61. Initially, it agreed to a minor word change of “professional requirement” to “professional obligation” in proposed Evidence Code section 1120.5(a)(1) to be consistent with other statutes. It then launched into a major discussion lasting approximate ninety minutes whether the exception should apply ONLY to state bar disciplinary proceeding as was suggested at its last meeting. Ultimately, the Commissioners voted NOT to limit the exception to state bar disciplinary proceedings but rather to stay with its original inclination that the exception should apply to (1) a legal malpractice civil action; (2) a fee dispute brought under the Mandatory Fee Arbitration statue; and (3) a state bar disciplinary proceeding. Towards the end of the hearing, the Commissioners voted to include into the exception, a legal malpractice action that is arbitrated rather than filed in court.
One suggestion was to include “fraud” and “breach of fiduciary duty” into the exceptions but the Commissioners declined deciding that the language already in the statute was broad enough to cover these precise claims.
The Commissioners further declined to place into the statute itself language explaining about mediated settlement agreements now found in the Comment section as well as declined any further action to address the possible inconsistent evidentiary issue raised in an action involving both a complaint and cross-complaint. While the exception would apply to the complaint, it would not apply to the cross-complaint. The CLRC voted to leave this issue to the courts to adjudicate.
The CLRC also declined to address the issue of what, if any, impact, a successful malpractice action would have on a prior settlement agreement. Would it unravel the settlement? Again, under the belief that collateral estoppel would not apply, the Commissioners viewed it as a non-issue.
The Commissioners did agree to add language within the statute (Section 1120.5(a)(3)) reciting the same exceptions that now appear in Evidence Code 703.5: that while a mediator is generally incompetent to provide oral and written testimony, this incompetency is removed in matters giving rise to civil and criminal contempt, constitutes a crime, be the subject of investigation by the State Bar or Commission on Judicial Performance; and give rise to disqualification under certain provisions of CCP 170.1. But, the Commissioners declined to add a cross reference to the definition of “writing” as contained in Evidence Code 250 on the basis that such is not usually done.
Perhaps one of the most important issues taken up by the Commissioners was “notice”. When and to whom and how much notice should be given to the other parties to the mediation that one of the exceptions to mediation confidentiality given has been invoked? After much discussion lasting close to an hour, the Commissioners decided that not only would the notice requirement apply to all three categories of exceptions (The draft statute as presently worded requires notice ONLY when a civil action for legal malpractice is filed and NOT to state bar disciplinary actions or mandatory fee arbitration disputes.) but the party instituting one of these three proceedings must provide notice that (1) there is a dispute under the relevant subsection of proposed Evidence Code 1120.5, (2) mediation confidentiality is at issue in that confidential information may be disclosed, and (3) the notice includes a copy of the complaint. Reasonable notice is to be given prior to the invocation of the exception to mediation confidentiality.
Once again, the issue of awarding attorney fees to a mediation participant who is a non-party to the legal malpractice action, mandatory fee arbitration dispute or state bar disciplinary action who moves to protect his/her confidential information was discussed. As before, the Commissioners declined to include any cost shifting provisions, believing that existing statutes can resolve this issue.
The next to the last issue considered had been raised several times but never decided by the CLRC: contractual waivers. While the original legislative mandate in AB 2025 included the consideration of contractual waivers, the CLRC had up to now put aside addressing it. At this hearing, it definitively agreed to prohibit such waivers. The proposed statute will now include a subpart (h): “Any agreement purporting to override this section is null and void.”
Finally, the Commissioners again took up the issue of the possible obligation of either the attorneys or mediators to inform mediation participants about the exception. As on previous occasions, they demurred, declining to make any recommendations on this “informed consent” issue believing that if counsel is involved in a mediation, they have a duty of full disclosure under the California Rules of Professional Responsibility and if the participant is self-representing- the issue does not arise.
So- at a few minutes past 6:00 p.m., the Commissioners voted to approve the Tentative Recommendation subject to the revisions to be made in the proposed statute as just noted and approved by the Chair and/or Vice Chair. By taking the vote at this meeting rather than putting it over to its meeting in February 2018, the Commissioners realized that their Tentative Recommendation would make it into the upcoming legislative session in which all legislative bills must be submitted prior to its next meeting. In short, there would have been a delay of a year in submitting this to the Legislature had they waited until February 2018 to finish up.
To those who are interested in this subject with views one way or the other, I urge you to contact your state legislator.
On September 28, 2017, the California Law Revision Commission met to review the public comments it had received to its Tentative Recommendation (issued in June 2017) following its study to create an exception to mediation confidentiality (Study K-402). The clear majority of the comments opposed the Tentative Recommendation. Retired Judge David Long testified that he counted 23 organizations and 439 individuals (or total of 462) against the Tentative Recommendation and only 11 to 16 organizations and persons in favor of it.
Given the above, Chief Deputy Counsel Barbara Gaal listed five (5) possible options that the Commission could consider (Memo 2017-52): (1) Proceed with the current proposal; (2) Provide an informational report only to the legislature; (3) Limit the Exception to private attorney-Client Discussions in a mediation context (using the language of the original AB 2025 bill); (4) Develop an Informed Consent Approach and Circulate a Revised Tentative Recommendation; or (5) Revisit the Full range of Options Raised in This Study.
Bearing in mind that the Commission has been studying this matter since the Spring of 2013 and that more than 3500 pages have been generated in the many memoranda issued by Ms. Gaal, the “Sunk Cost “fallacy kicked in. That fallacy is defined as:
Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort) (Arkes & Blumer, 1985). This fallacy, which is related to status quo bias, can also be viewed as bias resulting from an ongoing commitment. For example, individuals sometimes order too much food and then over-eat ‘just to get their money’s worth’. Similarly, a person may have a $20 ticket to a concert and then drive for hours through a blizzard, just because s/he feels that s/he has to attend due to having made the initial investment. If the costs outweigh the benefits, the extra costs incurred (inconvenience, time or even money) are held in a different mental account than the one associated with the ticket transaction (Thaler, 1999). (https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/sunk-cost-fallacy/)
After listening to members of the public testify for over two hours, the Commissioners, considering all the testimony they have heard both at this meeting and all prior meetings, acknowledged that much opposition exists to their Tentative Recommendation. Yet, at the same time, they felt duty bound to address the question that Justice Chen proposed in his concurring opinion in Cassel v. Superior Court (2011) 51 Cal 4th 113,139-140:
This case does not present the question of what happens if every participant in the mediation except the attorney waives confidentiality. Could the attorney even then prevent disclosure so as to be immune from a malpractice action? I can imagine no valid policy reason for the Legislature to shield attorneys even in that situation. I doubt greatly that one of the Legislature’s purposes in mandating confidentiality was to permit attorneys to commit malpractice without accountability. Interpreting the statute to require confidentiality even when everyone but the attorney has waived it might well result in absurd consequences that the Legislature did not intend. That question will have to await another case. But the Legislature might also want to consider this point.
So, they quickly decided that options 2, 4 and 5 were off the table: they were not going to take a fresh look at the whole matter again (after having spent 4 years on this (option 5)), and besides the notion of informed consent (option 4) had been voted on and vetoed several times previously. Nor were they going to provide merely an informational report (Option 2) given the time and effort put into this study.
This left Options 1 and 3 to consider. While some of the Commissioners were in favor of option 3- although, it, too, had its difficulties, the point was raised that this option (which was to limit the admissible communications as those directly between the attorney and client as set out in the original legislative bill AB 2025), had been vetted and vetoed by the Commission early on in this process.
The Commission was left with option 1—to proceed with the current proposal. But, one of the members of the audience had suggested that the exception be limited to allowing such evidence be introduced ONLY into state bar disciplinary proceedings. The Commissioners decided that this should be explored and requested its Chief Deputy Counsel to explore the notion of limiting the exception as applying ONLY in state bar disciplinary proceedings. The Commissioners also requested its Chief Deputy Counsel to review the various public comments suggesting minor changes in language to the proposed statute and to discuss these suggestions in a memorandum.
Consequently, the CLRC will meet again to discuss (1) limiting the exception to state bar disciplinary proceedings only; and (2) tweaking the language of the statute on December 1, 2017 in Sacramento.
One of the Commissioners noted that the CLRC should not really worry about what happens to its recommendations in the legislature. It should simply take on the task assigned, do the best job possible and report back to the legislature.
So, despite the extensive opposition to the proposed legislation, it appears that it will go forward to the legislature in some fashion. Another example of the Sunk Costs Fallacy in action.
Recall that the California Law Revision Commission has proposed that California law be amended to strip mediation communications of the confidentiality protection they now enjoy if the communications become “relevant” to a malpractice case in which a client sues his or her lawyer for misconduct during a mediation. The new statute would also subject mediators to subpoenas demanding production of documents received by the mediator from the mediating parties where such documents (in the possession of the mediator) are arguably relevant to the legal malpractice case.
The Staff of the Law Revision Commission has recently summarized the supporting and opposing submissions received by the CLRC during the public comment period that ended on September 1. Memorandum 2017-52 (www.clrc.ca.gov/pub/2017/MM17-52.pdf[‘.
In this Memorandum, the Commission Staff characterizes the public comment on the Commission’s legislative proposal as “decidedly negative” and “unfavorable”. Memorandum 2017-52, p. 1. Staff’s remarkably candid — even courageous — memorandum, notes that “the degree of opposition to the Commission’s proposal suggests that careful reexamination of the competing considerations is in order.” Emphasis original. Staff Memorandum 2017-52, p. 12.
In summarizing the opposition to the proposal, the Staff states that:
The 155 pages of comments include scattered words of praise or appreciation for the Commission, its staff, its process, and its work on this study. In general, however, they do not have much positive to say about the Commission’s proposal.
Ten stakeholder organizations submitted comments opposing the tentative recommendation or expressing serious concerns about it. Among those organizations was the Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee of the Judicial Council of California (hereafter, “Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee”), the key group responsible for expressing the position of the California court system on matters affecting civil cases. Also included were two other particularly important groups that had not previously spoken up in this study: the Consumer Attorneys of California (“CAOC”) and the California Defense Counsel (“CDC”), which took the unusual step of submitting a joint
letter on the matter. . . .
In contrast, the only stakeholder organization expressing support for the tentative recommendation was the Conference of California Bar Associations (“CCBA”), which has championed the need for an attorney misconduct exception since well before this study began. . . . [Footnotes omitted. Memorandum 2017-52, pp. 6-8.]
In its final comments, the Staff also notes that:
the Commission should bear in mind that elected officials . . . will be understandably reluctant to do something that is firmly opposed by their constituents, as well as groups that speak for a sister branch of government (the Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee and CJA). It might not even be possible to find a legislator willing to author a bill to implement the proposal. [Staff Memorandum 2017-52, pp. 33-34.]
It is fair to say that the Staff Memorandum summarizing the positive and negative comments on the proposed legislation candidly presents the case for and against the changes to mediation confidentiality the Commission has tentatively proposed. But the Staff Memorandum also carefully and forthrightly reminds the Commission that:
The opposition to the Commission’s tentative recommendation can only be described as overwhelming. It is not unanimous, but it is deep and widespread. California’s Mediation confidentiality statute may differ from those in other jurisdictions, providing greater protection in some respects, but a broad range of stakeholder organizations and many individuals appear to be well-satisfied with that approach and offer many reasons for their position. [Staff Memorandum 2017-52 at 33.]
The next meeting of the Commission is Thursday, September 28, 2017, in Sacramento. Details here. Comments on the Commission proposal may be directed to Barbara Gaal, Chief Deputy Counsel, California Law Revision Commission, either by mail, to 4000 Middlefield Road, Room D-2, Palo Alto, CA 94303; by fax, to 650-494-1335; or via email, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The California Law Revision Commission’s proposed legislation — which would strip mediation communications of their confidentiality where they are relevant to a claim of legal malpractice arising out of a mediation — has been available for comment since June of this year. And it has drawn a great deal of comment, both pro and con.
Included is opposition from the Honorable Raymond M. Cadei, of the Civil and Small Claims Advisory Committee of the Judicial Council of California. In these Comments, this Committee of the California Judicial Council expresses concern that “there has not been a sufficient showing that attorney misconduct in mediation is frequent enough to justify the risks” that adoption of the proposal “could discourage both participation and candid discussions in mediation”; “could discourage individuals from serving as mediators, particularly in court-connected mediation programs; and might “increase the number of malpractice claims brought” as a “means of providing leverage to change settlement agreements reached in mediation”.
On June 22, 2017, the California Law Revision Commission issued its Tentative Recommendation following its study to create an exception to mediation confidentiality (Study K-402). All public comments are due by September 1, 2017.
The Tentative Recommendation would be set forth in a new California Evidence Code Section 1120.5 that would allow the discovery and admission of previously confidential mediation communications where relevant to proving (or disproving) a claim of lawyer misconduct or malpractice. If the CLRC proposal is adopted by the Legislature:
The exception would apply only in State Bar disciplinary proceeding, a claim for damages due to legal malpractice, or an attorney-client fee dispute.
The exception would NOT apply in resolving a claim relating to the enforcement or rescission of a mediated settlement agreement or in a suit for specific performance of the settlement.
The exception would apply only to attorney misconduct in a professional capacity; that is, “when the merits of the claim will necessarily depend on proof that an attorney violated a professional obligation — that is, an obligation the attorney has byvirtue of being an attorney — in the course of providing professional services.”
The exception would only apply to alleged misconduct in representing a client, not in serving as a mediator.
The exception would apply only where the alleged misconduct occurs in a mediation context. A “mediation context” includes any alleged misconduct that may occur at any stage of the mediation process, such as the during a mediation consultation, a pre-mediation telephone call, a mediation brief, a joint session, a private caucus with or without the mediator present, a mediation related telephone call, and the like. The issue is whether it relates to the mediation, and not the time or date of the alleged misconduct.
A mediator generally could not testify or provide documentary evidence pursuant to the exception. That is, Evidence Code section 703.5 remains in effect and a mediator’s writings (personal notes and substantive emails and other communications) are not admissible or discoverable.
A litigant could not go to another source to obtain or learn the content of a mediator’s writings. Thus, a litigant could not go to a third-party source such as an email provider to obtain an email string which includes the mediator’s email messages containing substantive content unless that portion of the email string can be effectively redacted to protect the mediator’s substantive comments.
The same standard — “relevancy” — would govern both the admissibility and discoverability of evidence of the alleged misconduct.
The exception would limit the extent of disclosure to “… only the portion of the communication necessary for application of the exception.”
A court could — but is not obliged — to use judicial tools such as sealing records, in camera proceedings, protective orders, and redaction to prevent public disclosure of mediation evidence.
Mediation participants (if their whereabouts are available) would receive notice that a suit has been filed and thus be able to take steps to prevent improper disclosure of mediation communications.
The exception would apply evenhandedly to the evidence — both to prove and disapprove a claim of alleged malpractice.
The exception would apply to all types of evidence, not just to communications between the attorney and client during a private caucus.
The exception will apply to every type of mediation in all fields of law; no exceptions such as for family law mediation or mediations conducted under the Dispute Resolution Programs Act will be made.
The proposed legislation is to have no effect on the extent to which a mediator is or is not immune from liability under existing law.
The exception has no provision for the issuance of sanctions by a court against a party who brings an unsuccessful malpractice action.
The exception will apply only prospectively — to mediations occurring after its operative date.
I urge everyone to peruse, if not read, the full Tentative Recommendation and to provide comments to the California Law Revision Commission, 4000 Middlefield Road, Room D-2, Palo Alto, Cal 94303-4739, telephone: 650-494-1335, website: http://www.clrc.ca.gov/. Comments may be emailed to email@example.com.
Since the mid-1980s California law has protected mediation communications from disclosure in order to promote the sort of candor and openness that is essential to effective mediations.
But a 2011 decision of the California Supreme Court barring the admission of evidence of mediation communications in a case in which a client alleged that a lawyer committed malpractice during the mediation has resulted in an effort to revise the California Evidence Code to allow mediation communications to be offered into evidence in order to permit lawyers to be disciplined (and held financially accountable) for misconduct during mediation proceedings).
At the direction the California Legislature, the California Law Revision Commission (“CLRC”) is now conducting a study (Study K-402), which is focused on “The Relationship Between Mediation Confidentiality and Attorney Malpractice and Other Misconduct”. Since work began in 2012, the Commission’s staff has prepared a collection of comprehensive memoranda surveying the law, practice, statues, cases, and commentary on the subject. The Commission has also received substantial input from mediation participants (including parties, lawyers, and mediators) addressing whether mediation confidentiality should be compromised in order to permit lawyers to be sued and disciplined for mediation-related misconduct.
The Law Revision Commission’s Tentative Decision to Allow the Disclosure of Mediation Communications Relevant to Alleged Lawyer Malpractice.
In recent meetings, the Law Revision Commission has adopted tentative proposals to recommend that the Legislature amend California’s Evidence Code to allow parties to discover and offer into evidence all mediation communications that help prove or disprove claims that attorneys committed malpractice (as an advocate for a mediating party) in connection with a mediation.
To date, the CLRC’s tentative decisions include:
Creation of an exception to mediation confidentiality for all evidence proving or disproving professional misconduct or malpractice by an attorney advocate where the misconduct occurs “in the context of a mediation”.
This exception would not apply in a case alleging malpractice by the mediator, even where the mediator is an attorney.
The exception would apply in State Bar disciplinary proceedings as well as in malpractice suits. (Whether the exception would apply in attorney-client fee disputes is still undecided.)
The exception would not permit disclosure of mediation communications as part of an effort to unwind a mediated settlement agreement.
The exception would not affect existing mediator protections against being compelled to testify. Nor would it affect any current mediator immunity against suit.
The Law Revision Commission’s Tentative Recommendations Rejecting Potential Procedures To Limit Unnecessary Or Abusive Disclosure Of Confidential Information.
In its most recent meetings, the CLRC has also rejected a number of proposals that would have imposed preliminary procedural requirements before mediation communications could be revealed. In particular:
The Commission rejected any requirement that cases which would reveal confidential mediation communications be subject to a preliminary judicial or private screening to bar the filing of cases that lack substantial merit.
The Commission also rejected proposals to require a judge to determine, before confidential information would be subject to discovery or disclosure, that the information is relevant to the malpractice claim and that the need for the evidence outweighed the privacy interests of people who would be adversely affected by disclosure. (This process is used in certain types of proceedings under Uniform Mediation Act, which has been adopted by a number of states and has more limited confidentiality protections than are available under California law.)
The Positions Taken by SCMA.
The SCMA has twice submitted written its views on this subject. In 2012, SCMA publicly opposed proposed legislation that would have eroded mediation confidentiality. More recently, SCMA submitted a carefully crafted statement to the Law Revision Commission opposing the effort to lift, dilute, or compromise mediation confidentiality to allow the disclosure of confidences revealed in mediations if a lawyer is being sued or disciplined for the alleged breach of a professional duty to his or her client.
SCMA stated that candor and openness in mediation is just too important to be sacrificed because of what the Association’s experience demonstrates are only “rare, isolated, or unusual” claims of lawyer misconduct in mediation. But recognizing that the Law Revision Commission has decided (at least tentatively) to recommend that the Legislature allow judges and juries to be given access to confidential mediation communications where they are relevant to claims of lawyer misconduct, SCMA urged the Law Revision Commission to recommend meaningful procedural protections against unnecessary public disclosure of private information and confidences revealed in the mediation process.
As stated in SCMA President Floyd Siegal’s letter to the Law Revision Commission:
“To the extent that courts in California have allowed judicial scrutiny of events that occurred during mediation, they have done so only in very limited circumstances and applying special procedural safeguards . . . thereby maintaining the confidentiality of the mediation process. In the event the Commission decides to recommend an exception for confidentiality in cases alleging attorney malpractice, similar protections to those mandated in Rinaker [ v. Superior Court (1998)] should be a part of the law.” clrc.ca.gov/pub/2015/MM15-55s1.pdf
But SCMA’s positions are not universally recognized either within the mediation community or within the larger community of mediation participants. And SCMA’s recommendations have, so far, found little support in the CLRC.
But the CLRC process is ongoing, with many issues remaining to be considered. For example, the Commission has asked its staff to consider two other potential mechanisms to mitigate the effects of the Commission’s tentative proposals. The first would require parties proposing to file malpractice cases in which confidential mediation communications might be revealed to first obtain a certificate or other determination from a lawyer certified as a legal malpractice specialist that the case has substantial merit. An alternative would be to require such a certification of merit from all lawyers who file malpractice cases in which it can be expected that confidential mediation communications would be offered into evidence.
What SCMA Members and Others Can Do to Have Their Views Considered By The Law Revision Commission.
As this process proceeds, SCMA members – and others interested in the subject – may submit their personal views on both the importance of mediation confidentiality and the need for protections against unnecessary disclosure of confidential information revealed in mediations directly to the Law Revision Commission. These comments may be directed to Barbara Gaal, Chief Deputy Counsel, California Law Revision Commission, either by mail, to 4000 Middlefield Road, Room D-2, Palo Alto, CA 94303; by fax, to 650-494-1335; or via email, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new movie Spotlight might be about the most exciting drama that could be made about filing a motion to unseal court records. (Some viewers might say that the movie is also about how a team of investigative journalists uncovered widespread pedophilia in the Catholic Church in Boston, but the legal fight to obtain access to sealed documents was of course the part of the story I focused on.)
Confidentiality agreements often serve the short-term interests of the parties to a particular dispute: An enterprise accused of wrongdoing has a strong interest in keeping its alleged wrongful actions secret, both to protect its reputation and to dissuade others from suing. At the same time, individuals bringing such accusations have an incentive to agree to requests for secrecy, which are often demanded in exchange for settlement payments. In this film, such confidentiality agreements are portrayed as a shameful practice that allowed the Church to cover up crimes for decades and keep predators at large. The legal system’s complicity in the sort of confidentiality that allows evidence to be suppressed, criminals to be spirited away, and victims to remain in the shadows, is portrayed as an obstacle that must be overcome in order to allow justice and healing for abuse victims.
We should, however, distinguish the kinds of protective orders and confidentiality agreements that had to be defeated in the Church abuse cases, from the need to conduct settlement negotiations in private, without fear that admissions or offers might be used against parties in that particular case.
I have been involved in efforts to protect the confidentiality of settlement negotiations–mediation confidentiality in particular. Confidentiality is essential to the practice of mediation and to settlement negotiations in general, as the evidentiary bar against the admissibility of settlement negotiations encourages parties to speak candidly without fear that their offers and admissions may be used against them in later court proceedings. Without the shield of confidentiality, parties might be reluctant to engage in spirited settlement negotiations, and cases might be less likely to resolve in a consensual manner. Without the protection of confidentiality, parties are more likely to be forced into adversarial confrontation, and less likely to find a cooperative means of obtaining resolution. Without an evidentiary rule against the admissibility of settlement negotiations, parties are more likely to move back toward needlessly destructive litigation.
While the confidentiality of settlement negotiations generally deserves strong protection in individual cases for the benefit of those parties, courts must still be mindful of the over-use of protective orders and other efforts to hide wrongdoing in individual cases from public view. This is where the courts have to balance the interests of the public, including the interests of other potential victims of wrongdoing, against the desires of the parties in a particular case to keep the terms of their settlements confidential. Parties and their attorneys should also be mindful of the potential over-use of protective orders and settlement confidentiality provisions, which can create traps even for the parties in a particular case, and which may also harm the public interest.
As shown by my last few posts, Spotlight is only the most recent in a spate of movies this year featuring powerful legal themes. We are fortunate to have such a feast of thoughtful legal dramas.
Jack Goetz and Barbara Brown will update the membership on the work of SCMA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Voluntary Mediator Certification.
Lee Blackman and Phyllis Pollack will update the membership on the most recent meetings of the California Law Revision Commission concerning possible revisions to the Evidence Code with respect to mediation confidentiality.
Two prominent California mediators represent the opposing positions in the debate surrounding California Law Revision Commission’s Study K-402, entitled “Relationship Between Mediation Confidentiality and Attorney Malpractice and Other Misconduct.”
On February 20th, Mark, Baer, Len Levy and Terra Russell Slavin presented their compelling workshop “Equal Rights for the LGBT Community: The Last Frontier of the Civil Rights Movement,” followed by an equally important workshop “Critical Race Theory: Introduction to the Genre, Intellectual Influences and Emerging Issues,” with Kim Clark, Lucy Jewel and Andrea Smith. My thanks to each of the panelists, who graciously gave up their Saturday morning in order to give 30 of us a second opportunity to attend these two highly praised workshops from last year’s Annual Conference!
Four days later, 24 mediators filled the large conference room at the Conflict Solutions Center (CSC) in Santa Barbara for the inaugural meeting of the Santa Barbara Professional Development Group. My thanks to Sayre McNeil, Cindy Brokaw and Harriet Causin for their amazing efforts to promote the group, and to Lizzie Rodriguez, of CSC, for offering to host the meeting!
And the month of March promises to be equally exciting!
On March 2nd, March 7th and March 16th, respectively, the Westside, Pasadena and San Fernando Valley Professional Development Groups will be holding their meetings.
On March 19th, SCMA will be hosting a Town Hall to discuss Mediator Certification and Mediation Confidentiality. First, Jack Goetz and Barbara Brown will provide an update concerning the work and recommendations of their Ad Hoc Committee on Mediator Certification, after which Lee Blackman and Phyllis Pollack will moderate a discussion concerning potential changes to the Evidence Code with respect to mediation confidentiality that are being considered by the California Law Review Commission. This is one event you won’t want to miss!
Mediation Awareness Week begins on March 28th, and President-Elect Jason Harper will be representing SCMA and addressing the Los Angeles City Council on March 30th, when the Council issues its annual Mediation Awareness Week proclamation.
Looking ahead, SCMA’s Second Annual Past President’s Breakfast is coming up on April 16th, and we are beginning to work on SCMA’s Annual Employment Institute and other programing for this spring and summer.
Finally, I am excited to announce that Forest Whitaker — recipient of the 2015 Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award — has confirmed he will be able to attend SCMA’s Summer Mixer on August 10, 2016 to formally receive the award. More details to follow!
Looking forward to seeing all of you at the Town Hall on March 19th!
Floyd Siegal, President
Southern California Mediation Association