With courtrooms becoming more and more crowded, it is a good idea to look at ways to solve your problems without having to appear before a judge. In fact, the state of Alabama is in a crisis that may cut deeply into the budgets of the judiciary, which would mean even more overcrowding.
When looking to solve a legal problem without going into the courtroom, there are two primary different types of procedures you can go through.
One is mediation, which is a way to work through a case that is already in litigation, or is preparing to be in litigation.
You can work through the issues with an independent third-party – the mediator – who is usually an attorney with knowledge about the law and the facts of the situation. A mediator is a totally unbiased party, and may not give legal advice to either side of a legal issue.
The mediator tries to assist people into coming to some resolution to their claims before litigation or before trial. A mediator will work with you and your spouse, or they may work with you and your attorneys.
The mediator does not make any decisions. He or she talks with the parties about working through their problems.
Arbitration is the second way to avoid the courtroom, and it is a much different process.
An arbitrator is someone who is appointed to hear the claims of a case. The arbitration team can be one person, or a panel of three or more people.
Typically, lawyers will hear the claim, and then they will actually make the decision on the claim. It’s kind of like trying your case, but not to a jury; you’re trying it before other lawyers.
The problem with arbitration is that it takes away a lot of your rights with regard to discovery and things you typically can do in a standard lawsuit that will be tried before judge and jury.
If you’re trying a case before a jury of twelve people in your community, they are charged with being fair and unbiased. However, if you’re trying your case before arbitrators, there may be bias that you are unable to explore in discovery.
It will be up to you, the other party and your attorneys as to which is the best way to proceed with your particular case.
Whereas, if you’re trying your case before an arbitrator, this could be someone that may have some kind of bias that you’re not able to explore. You may not get the same reaction you get from a jury.