The Alternative Dispute Resolution System in Oklahoma is currently made up of thirteen community-based mediation centers (Early Settlement) and fifteen programs developed by state agencies. (Appendix A) This system which was authorized (1983) and funded (1985) by the state legislature through the Oklahoma Dispute Resolution Act, 12 O.S. Supp. 1997, § 1801 et seq., is administered and supervised by the Administrative Director of the Courts (ADC) through his designee, the ADR System Director, with the ongoing input of the Dispute Resolution Advisory Board.
The state system is designed to be centrally coordinated through the Administrative Office of the Courts. Each program within the system is certified by means of an initial application process and annual contracts with the local sponsors of the community-based centers and the executive officer(s) of the state agencies. Mediator candidates for the programs are required to complete training and an experience-based practicum provided under the authority of the ADC in order to achieve certification as a mediator. They are not charged fees for their training. Mediators for the Early Settlement Program work as volunteers while mediators for the state-agency programs add mediation to their job duties. The ADC must also certify both the trainers and the curriculum for the training.
The purpose of the system, as stated in the Act is “to provide to all citizens of this state convenient access to dispute resolution proceedings which are fair, effective, inexpensive, and expeditious.” The Act also anticipates that “such proceedings can also help alleviate the backlog of cases which burden the judicial system in this state.”
How Mediation Works
In mediation, a neutral third party helps those in conflict define issues, explore solutions, and reach practical workable, and mutually satisfactory agreements. Mediation seeks to prevent conflicts from escalating, saving everyone involved the time and expense of going to court.
Mediation is a process which can help ALL parties involved:
Get past their anger, frustration, guilt, or “desire to punish”
Clarify their underlying, bottom-line goals
See their “opponent’s” feelings, viewpoints, and goals
Cooperatively build a lasting, WIN/WIN voluntary solution
Create an atmosphere of on-going cooperation and efficiency
All mediations are handled promptly and confidentially