It is important to realize that changes may occur in this area of law. This information is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem, and it is not intended to replace the work of an attorney.
What is an appellate settlement conference?
An appellate settlement conference involves mediation of a case on appeal. Typically, a trial has taken place, and a party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the trial seeks to challenge that outcome by appealing the trial judgment to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Mediation is a process in which parties who disagree over issues involved in an appeal are assisted in reaching an agreement by a neutral person or judge trained in problem solving. If a judge is a mediator in an appellate settlement conference, it will not be a judge who would decide the case on the Court of Appeals, if the parties do not settle the case.
What kind of cases go into the Appellate Settlement Conference Program?
In general, three kinds of cases go into the appellate settlement conference program: general civil cases, domestic relations and workers’ compensation cases. If the court does not assign a case to the program, a party may still choose to participate in the Appellate Settlement Conference Program. All cases are screened by an attorney on the court’s staff to determine whether mediation is appropriate for that particular case.
When are cases assigned?
Cases are assigned to the Appellate Settlement Conference Program immediately after a notice of appeal has been filed. After assignment, the case becomes inactive for 120 days so the parties can try to settle their differences. If the case does not settle, or if the case is removed from the program, the appeal is immediately reactivated and the parties continue with the appeal process in court.
What is the cost of the Appellate Settlement Conference Program?
For a general civil appeal or domestic relations appeal, each participant pays $350. For a workers’ compensation appeal, each party pays $150. This amount covers the cost of up to five hours of mediation. If the parties decide to continue mediation after five hours, they pay $150 for each additional hour. The parties are instructed where to make those payments. People whose incomes are very low can ask for the fee to be waived or deferred.
What happens at an appellate settlement conference?
The mediator will generally have telephone contact with all the parties involved before the mediation. The mediator will go over the process with the parties. At the time scheduled for the settlement conference, the mediator and the parties and their attorneys will talk about various options in lieu of continuing the appeal. The goal of the mediation is for the parties to reach an agreement about the outcome of the lawsuit, so no further costs or attorneys fees will be necessary. If the parties agree to settle the case, the appellant will ask the Court of Appeals to dismiss the appeal. If the case is not settled, the appeal will be reactivated, and the Court of Appeals will decide what happens to the lawsuit.
Are the discussions during an appellate settlement conference confidential?
All discussions made during an appellate settlement conference are confidential under Oregon law unless the parties agree otherwise. In addition, the judges on the Court of Appeals are not told which cases are assigned to the Appellate Settlement Conference Program.
Is this program also available at the Supreme Court?
Cases at the Oregon Supreme Court level are evaluated by the justices on a case-by-case basis to determine if they might be appropriate for mediation.
Legal editor: Janay Haas, August 2009