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Procedures for Dispute Resolution Case Management System

When entering community cases, fill in all relevant fields in the case summary.

When entering any small claims cases into the DRCMS, be sure to indicate that the referral source is "Small Claims Court." Do NOT enter it in as "Village/Town Court," even though small claims cases often come from village and town courts. This dramatically simplifies the process of running queries on small claims cases.

Also, be sure to enter the pending location and court date—even when cases are mediated at court without a prior referral. Although these in-court mediations are not technically "pending" anymore when we enter them into the DRCMS, this is the only field that indicates the exact referral source.

A "NO" response should be entered into the "Domestic Dispute?" field for all community cases, even if the case is between intimate or domestic partners. This field is for family cases only.

For court referral, write the DRCMS number at the top of the page and highlight. While the case is open, you make write notes on the file or a post-it to keep track of correspondences. Also enter a note, including date, of all correspondences in the “Case Notes” tab of the Case Summary.

Once the case has mediated, you may close out the case in the DRCMS. If a case is mediated at the Center but parties decide to proceed to court, wait to close out the case until the court date has passed, as it is possible they may choose to mediate a second time at court. Before closing out a case, be sure to enter session information for each session conducted (this cannot be done after case is closed) and to include the duration of the session and the number of hearings.

Contacting Parties

Court Letters

All parties referred to the Mediation Center from small claims court should receive a letter from the Community Program Manager approximately one month prior to their court date. (There is no need to send letters to referrals from sources other than small claims court if there is a phone number provided.) If it appears that parties may be intimate parties, letters should be sent out immediately to allow for extra time to implement the intimate partner protocol. After cases are entered into the DRCMS, small claims letters can be created in the DRCMS program using a template.

  • After you have input the data, click on print report to the right of the data field
  • A new field will open up select case report
  • Choose the last option custom templates
  • A choice will open to make the letter, click court letter template and the letter will then be composed
  • Next click print

Initial Contact

When initial phone contact is made with parties, the Program Manager should:

  • Explain how the case was referred to the Mediation Center
  • Explain that mediation is a voluntary and confidential process
  • Provide basic information about the process and the role of the mediator
  • Answer any questions parties may have about mediation
  • Listen and reflect if parties chose to discuss details of the case
  • Refer any court process-related questions to the court
  • Advise parties to contact an attorney with any  legal questions
  • If unknown, ask about the nature of the parties’ relationship (if parties are intimate partners, implement intimate partner protocol)

Scheduling Mediations

The Volunteer Manager sends out a slot calendar to mediators every three months for mediators to sign up to mediate community cases. Mediators that request it are put on a “substitute list,” to be called as needed. Selected slots are entered into Smart Cal (the Center’s on-line calendar) in the following format: “Community Mediation Slot: Joan Smith.”

The Community Program Manager schedules mediations and the parties’ names are entered into an open slot in for following format:

Community: Trucking/Broome DC8888 – Joan Smith

The Community Program Manager calls mediators one week ahead of time if a mediation has been scheduled for their slot, and then confirms with parties and the mediators one day before the mediation. If there mediations are scheduled for slots without an assigned mediator, the Community Program Manager is responsible for contacting and scheduling mediators for that slot.

In addition to Smart Cal, the Case Manager writes any scheduled Mediation on the paper Calendar in the kitchen, notates DRCMS, and notates the front of the case file folder with the date, time and name(s) of the mediator(s).

Reports & DRCMS Queries

The Community Program Manager is responsible for reporting on a monthly, bi-annual, and annual basis.

Monthly Reports

Monthly reports submitted to the Executive Director should include a summary of all Community cases and all other activities of the Community Program Manager for the month (see example).  To extract case data for monthly reports, use the DRCMS query entitled “Community Report (Close-Out Date).”  This query is designed to extract data based on the close-out date, which avoids inconsistencies in reporting when cases are pending over the course of several months.

Small Claims Reporting (Bi-Annual)

Every six months, the Community Program Manager should submit reports to all of the small claims court judges who refer cases to us, with an accompanying letter. A copy should also be send to the Magistrates Association. This report should include a breakdown of number of cases referred from each court, the number of cases mediated, agreement rates, and data on intimate partner cases (see example). To extract case data for 6-month small claims reports, also use the DRCMS query entitled “Community Report (Close-Out Date).”

Annual Reporting

Annual reporting for the State is done in the spring of the following year, allowing time for all cases opened in a give year concluded and closed out in the DRCMS. All cases from the previous year must be closed out by March 31 in the DRCMS. The Community Program Manager is also responsible for submitting an annual report of all community cases and program activities (including outreach activities, trainings, program development work, etc.) to the Executive Director. The case data for this report should be extracted using the DRCMS query entitled “Community Cases (Intake Date). This query is designed to extract data based on the intake date.

Program Management for Disputes Involving Family Members

Cases falling under Community Program:

  • Interpersonal disputes between adult family members, including parent/child when child is over 18 (some will fall under elder program--need to determine criteria for this)
  • Property disputes between adult family members
  • Interpersonal disputes between intimate partners that are NOT mediating custody, visitation, child support, divorce or separation

Cases falling under Family Program:

  • Parent/child disputes when child is under 18 or under (we could make exceptions, for instance if child is 19, but still living with parent)

Some parent/child disputes could overlap with PINS; these cases would be managed by the PINS Program Manager.

It is rare that cases involving the same parties are referred to the Center from different courts at the same time.  To help identify cases that may be referred to more than one program from different courts, during initial contact ask parties:

  1. If there is a current order of protection, from which court?
  2. Do they have any cases pending in other courts with the same party?

If there are cases active with the same parties in both the Family Program and the Community Program, each case will be entered separately into the DRCMS. However, the Family Program Manager will manage the case (make initial contact, conduct intakes, and set up mediation) and family mediators will be used to mediate the case.  If agreements are reached, separate written agreements must be drawn up for each individual court case. Agreements pertaining to small claims court will then be given by the Family Program Manager to the Community Program Manager and each manager will close out their case separately. For reporting purposes, each program will report the case within their program, although it will be counted as only one mediation session.