1. Definition of Mediation. Mediation is a process during which an impartial, neutral person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties in a dispute to assist reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them. The mediator may suggest ways of resolving the dispute but may not impose his or her own judgment on the issues or on any of the parties.
2. Agreement of Parties. Parties involved in mediation agree to these Rules by their signatures on the Waiver and Consent form (all participants and attorneys are asked to sign prior to all mediation sessions).
3. Consent to Mediator. Parties consent to the appointment of the individual named as mediator in their case. The Mediator may not, and will not act as an advocate for any party to the mediation.
4. Conditions Precedent to Serving as Mediator. The mediator shall not serve as mediator in any dispute in which he or she has any financial or personal interest in the result of the mediation. Prior to accepting an appointment, the Mediator shall disclose to parties, any circumstances likely to create a presumption of bias or prevent prompt scheduling. In the event that parties disagree as to whether the Mediator shall serve, the Mediator shall not serve.
5. Authority of Mediator. The Mediator has no authority to decide any issue for the parties, but will attempt to facilitate the voluntary resolution of the dispute by the parties. The Mediator is authorized to conduct joint and separate meetings with parties and to offer suggestions to assist the parties in achieving settlement. If necessary, the Mediator may also obtain expert advice concerning technical aspects of the dispute, provided the parties agree and assume expenses of obtaining such advice. Arrangements for obtaining such advice shall be made by the Mediator or the parties, as determined by the Mediator.
6. Commitment to Participate in Good Faith. While no one is asked to commit to settle his/her case in advance of mediation, all parties commit to participate in the proceedings in good faith, with the intention to settle, if at all possible.
7. Parties Responsible for Negotiating Their Own Settlement. Parties understand that the Mediator will not and cannot impose a settlement in their case, and agree that they are responsible for negotiating a settlement acceptable to them. The Mediator, as an advocate for settlement, will use every effort to facilitate negotiations of the parties. The Mediator does not warrant or represent that settlement will result from the mediation process.
8. Authority of Representatives. Each party representative agrees that he or she has authority to settle the dispute involved in mediation, and that all persons necessary to any settlement decision to shall be present at mediation.
9. Time and Place of Mediation. The McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) shall coordinate the time of each mediation session. The mediation shall be held at the offices of the McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center, or any other convenient location agreeable to the Mediator and to the parties, as determined by the Mediator.
10. Identification of Matters in Dispute. Prior to the first mediation session, each party shall use his or her best efforts to provide the Mediator and all attorneys of record with requested information on the form(s) provided by the mediator, setting forth its position with regard to issues that need to be resolved.
11. Privacy. Mediation sessions are private. Parties and their representatives may attend mediation sessions. Other persons may attend only with the permission of the parties and with the consent of the Mediator.
12. No Stenographic, Audio, or VideoTape Record. There shall be no stenographic record, tape-recording, or videotaping of the mediation process.
13. No Service of Process at or Near the Site of the Mediation Session. No subpoena, summons, complaints, citations, writs, or other process may be served upon any person at or near the site of any mediation session or upon any person entering, attending, or leaving the session.
14. Confidentiality. The Mediator shall not divulge confidential information disclosed to the Mediator by parties or by witnesses in the course of the mediation. All records, reports or other documents received by the Mediator while serving in that capacity shall be confidential. The Mediator and the McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center shall not be requested or compelled to produce or divulge such records or to testify in regard to the mediation in any adversary proceeding or judicial forum. Any party that violates this agreement shall pay all fees and expenses of the Mediator, the McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center, and other parties, including reasonable attorneys' fees, incurred in opposing the efforts to request or compel testimony or records from the Mediator or the McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center. Parties shall maintain confidentiality of the mediation and shall not rely on, or introduce as evidence in any trial, judicial or other proceeding: a) views expressed or suggestions made by another party with respect to a possible settlement of the dispute; b) admissions made by another party in the course of mediation proceedings; c) proposals made or views expressed by the Mediator; or d) the fact that another party had or had not indicated willingness to accept a proposal for settlement made by the Mediator. CONFIDENTIALITY EXCEPTION: any allegations of abuse or neglect and any statements of threatened harm to any individual are exceptions to this confidentiality agreement and will be reported to the appropriate authorities by the Mediator.
15. Termination of Mediation. The mediation shall be concluded: a) by execution of a settlement agreement by the parties; b) by declaration of the Mediator to the effect that further efforts at mediation are no longer worthwhile; or c) by a written or verbal declaration of a party or parties to the effect that the mediation proceedings are terminated.
16. Exclusion of Mediator. The Mediator and the McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center are not necessary or proper parties in judicial proceedings relating to the mediation.
17. Interpretation and Application of Rules. The Mediator shall interpret and apply these rules.
18. Fees and Expenses. If applicable, the expenses of witnesses for either side shall be paid by the party producing such witnesses. All other expenses of the mediation and the expenses of any witness and the cost of any proofs or expert advice produced at the direct request of the Mediator shall be borne equally by the parties unless they agree otherwise.
19. Parties to Rely on Own Counsel. If the mediation is concluded by a settlement agreement, parties are advised, and agree, to have the agreement independently reviewed by their own attorneys and counsel before executing the agreement in final form. Parties understand and agree that the Mediator is not acting as an advocate for any party and each party states that they have not relied upon legal advice or counsel from the Mediator in entering into the settlement agreement.
20. Weapons and Firearms Ban. The possession of weapons and firearms is prohibited on the premises of the McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center and in all other locations where the McLennan County Dispute Resolution Center conducts mediations or meetings.
21. Document Retention Policy. Case records, including all documents relating to any case to be mediated by the DRC shall be destroyed, or permanently deleted if in electronic form, on or after the third anniversary after the project/case file closes.