The Difference Between Case Evaluation & Civil Mediation
Case Evaluation is mandated by Court Rule. All civil cases in Washtenaw County are ordered to Case Evaluation.
In mediation, parties work with a neutral facilitator who directs and moderates their discussion of the issues in their case, to help them reach agreement. Mediation often results in settlement.
Participation in Mediation
The Court has the power to order you to participate in the mediation process, whether or not you agree. For more information go to the State Court Administration Office (SCAO) Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Rules Governing Mediation
When mediation is ordered by the Court, it is governed by Michigan Court Rule 3.216. By mutual agreement of the parties and the mediator, the mediator may give the parties a written recommendation for settlement of any issues that remain unresolved at the conclusion of mediation. This process is called "Evaluative Mediation and is governed by MCR 3.216(I).
Lawyer Participate in Mediation
Your ability to achieve a settlement in mediation will be enhanced if you obtain legal advice about your rights and responsibilities from your attorney before you begin to mediate. You may choose to have your lawyer participate in the mediation sessions, or you may choose to mediate without your lawyer present, and to confer with him or her between sessions.
Both parties need independent legal advice. Even if the mediator is a lawyer, ethics require that the mediator maintain neutrality and not give legal advice.
Finding a Mediator
The Washtenaw County Trial Court maintains an Approved Civil Mediator List (PDF). This list is monitored and maintained by The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Clerk. These approved mediators have completed training programs and have met other requirements established by the Supreme Court.
Use the list to choose a mediator or you may choose a mediator who is not on the list. However, if the court orders you to mediate and you are unable to agree on a mediator, the ADR Clerk will assign a mediator.
Mediators usually charge on an hourly basis. The parties generally share the cost. This information is available on the ADR Clerk’s Approved Civil Mediator List (PDF).
Sliding scale and reduced fee arrangements can be made with private mediators, as well as the Dispute Resolution Center in Ann Arbor. Information is also available from Legal Services of South Central Michigan.
Unable to Agree on a Mediator
If the Court orders mediation and you cannot agree on a mediator, the ADR Clerk will assign the first available mediator from the Approved Civil Mediator List (PDF).
Length of Mediation
The number of sessions needed depends on the number and complexity of issues.
Failed Mediation & the Judge
If you are ordered to mediate and you do not reach an agreement, the mediator will tell the judge only that mediation was unsuccessful. The mediator is not permitted to provide the judge with any other information.