The State’s Attorney’s Office recommended mediation between three young men (juveniles), who had never been in trouble with the law before, and a nonprofit organization from which they had been charged with stealing. The session involved a total of seven participants because, in addition to the one representative of the nonprofit organization, each juvenile was required to bring a parent with him. Coordinating the schedules of seven participants and two mediators and finding an appropriate mediation site made the logistics of scheduling this mediation session very difficult. To make it even more difficult and contentious, the first scheduled session did not take place as three of the participants called at the appointed mediation time to say they were running more than an hour late.
In spite of this set back, everyone showed up as scheduled for the second scheduled mediation session. After some contentious and angry exchanges, as well as threats to walk out of the session, a very open and honest dialogue began as a father broke down expressing his utter dispair over his son’s choice which would not only ruin his college scholarship opportunities but his life. Then, the nonprofit representative was able to talk about how he had identified with the parents when he tried to imagine himself in their position with his children of the same age. In the end, the charges were placed on the stet docket and a restitution plan was agreed upon, whereby the young men would work during their summer breaks for three years – saving half of their earnings for college expenses and paying the nonprofit the other half in restitution. In addition, the nonprofit representative was able to offer some job opportunities to one of the unemployed parents.
CASE STUDY - FAMILY ISSUES
A nonprofit organization referred the unemployed parents of six children to mediation to help them discuss their practically impossible situation without getting bogged down in their frustration. These parents had no access to transportation so the nonprofit organization not only brought them to their offices but also watched their children during the mediation sessions. While the problems of the couple were numerous, CMUS mediators were able to assist the couple to communicate with one another, and make a plan concerning babysitting schedules and rides to continuing education classes.
CASE STUDY - NEIGHBORHOOD DISPUTE
A neighborhood mediation occurred when four neighbors filed separate charges against another neighbor. When we did our intake, the neighbors were scared of their one neighbor telling us things like he beat his girlfriend, nearly ran over someone with his ATV and they thought he might have killed someone.
We were concerned this person might be too violent for mediation but ended up not having to make the decision because he never called us back. Eventually, everyone went to court where the judge in his extremely good wisdom told them they needed to go to mediation. Once we started scheduling everyone, the four spouses wanted to come so that made eight "against" one and then some of the other neighbors decided they wanted to go, too, making it TWELVE "against" one (and three mediators).
When the young man told his story, it culminated with him saying the life lessons he learned were to yell louder than the person who was yelling at him, to puff up larger than the person who was threatening him and to be meaner than the person being mean to him. He ended his opening telling his neighbors that they have never even said hello to him. All they have done is yell, threaten and been mean. Well, one of the neighbors really took these words to heart. He confessed he was new to the neighborhood and had only listened to the gossip. He introduced himself and talked about his children. The young man said he'd been watching the kids and offered to teach them some ATV safety rules that he had observed them not following.
By the end of the session, this neighborhood was planning a gathering so they could all get to know each other. The young man has even been to dinner with some of the neighborhood families. Here was a case that started changing a young man's life.
CASE STUDY - BUSINESS DISPUTE
A local business owner was having difficulty with the firm hired to build the business’ website. The conflict escalated to the point that the business owner started withholding payment causing the website designer to remove the business’ website from the internet. The business owner saw a flyer about CMUS at a local store and called to find out more information. Through this informational conversation, CMUS was asked to reach out to the website designer to request settling their differences through mediation. During mediation, these two business owners were able to come to an agreement regarding payment, website restoration and lessons for site management.
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All information, oral or written, disclosed during a mediation and/or intake, shall adhere to Maryland Standards of Conduct for Mediators. Mediation confidentiality is governed by Maryland Rules of Procedure Title 17 (with the exception of suspected child abuse, elder abuse or neglect, or threats to do bodily harm to one’s self or another person).