Many California Courts have some system for mediating eviction matters just before trial. To date, the Alameda County Superior Court does not have such a system, but the Court is partnering with the ACBAâ€™s Volunteer Legal Services Corporation (VLSC) to launch a pilot project in which volunteer attorneys serve as mediators in these cases. The pilot project will track case outcomes, court resources and litigant perception of justice as a way to document the impact of mediation in cases like these.
For the moment, the project will focus on eviction matters set for bench trial, where most of the cases involve at least one party who is not represented by counsel. The Court is instituting a mandatory settlement conference for those matters, but there is no judicial officer available to conduct those conferences â€“ at the moment, litigants are sent into the hall with directions to discuss settlement.
Volunteer mediators will be assigned one or more matters from the calendar, and be provided with the court file. Mediators will meet with the parties (and any lawyers), and attempt to work out a settlement. If no settlement can be reached, then the case will be sent back to the initial department, and sent out for trial.
VLSC will provide a 3 hour free CLE training that will cover:
- The basics of Unlawful Detainer (eviction) law
- An explanation of the typical settlement terms in these cases
- The basics of how to conduct a meditation, with particular attention on handling meditations in which one or both parties are unrepresented
- The view from the bench