Mediation Training for Judges

by Judge Diane E. Bessen State Court of Fulton County

Training at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada I am told, is always a fabulous experience. When Judge Stacey Hydrick of DeKalb County Superior Court and I discussed becoming trained mediators, the NJC seemed the logical choice.  The training would be geared to our unique perspectives as adjudicators learning to become facilitators, as opposed to training offered locally for attorneys and lay people.  However, considering the expenses associated with airfare and hotel for six days in Reno, we began looking for a similar option closer to home. After a few months of emails and Zoom calls, we were able to put together a five-day training and practicum, approved by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution (GODR), in conjunction with trainers from the Kennesaw State University Center for Conflict Management. The training was held at the State Bar of Georgia and was designed specifically for judges interested in learning mediation skills.  

Some of the participants were senior judges who are considering mediating now that they are retired from full-time work. Others were sitting judges who might also be planning eventual retirement but who see the practicality of understanding the emotions and motivations involved in cases we see every day on the bench.  Modifications to the standard curriculum involved a presentation by Senior Judge Susan Forsling who as a full-time mediator, brought tremendous insight regarding the transition from adjudicator to facilitator. Gino Brogdon, Jr., Esq. also presented an in-depth look at “bracketing” and its role in reaching settlements. The program may have been the first of its kind in Georgia and hopefully it will be something GODR will continue to offer annually, to provide judges this unique training for mediation certification.

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