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Recertified Operating Plan for Conducting Jury Trials

Dispute Resolution Center

The Dispute Resolution Center (DRC) is Jefferson County’s mediation program. Mediation is a problem-solving negotiation process in which people in dispute meet with trained mediators who help disputants reach their own mutually accepted solution to the conflict. The goal in mediation is for parties to find a realistic, lasting agreement that will eliminate the need for litigation.

The DRC offers mediation services at a low cost. Each year, DRC volunteer mediators conduct hundreds of mediation sessions providing citizens with a quick, cost-effective, non-adversarial alternative to litigation or jury trial. In many cases, mediation saves time, energy, and money for the individuals involved in a dispute, as well as the county government, and the community.

Mediation Services Provided

Mediation at the DRC is a flexible process that is useful for solving a variety of disputes. Common issues resolved through the mediation process include, but are not limited to:

  • Merchant/Consumer Complaints
  • Landlord/Tenant Issues
  • Employee/Employer Problems
  • Personal Injury Claims
  • Organizational Disputes
  • Business Disputes
  • Real Estate Contracts
  • Divorce/Custody/Access
  • Family/Friend Disputes
  • Neighborhood Disputes
  • Unpaid Debts
  • Contract Disagreements
  • Insurance Claims
  • Victim Restitution

Most cases are referred to the DRC by local attorneys, law enforcement agencies, the Better Business Bureau, and other entities. Cases can also be ordered to mediations at the DRC by a presiding Judge.

The DRC provides the following mediation services:

  • Community Mediation
  • Court-Annexed Mediation
  • Victim/Offender Mediation
  • Peer Mediation
  • Information and Referral
  • Standard and Advanced Mediation Training
  • Conflict Resolution and Communication Training

Mediation Sessions

The DRC offers half-day mediation sessions every weekday at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Mediation sessions for Community Cases, or cases not pending in court, are offered every other Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. If parties need more than the scheduled time for mediation, the DRC can make arrangements for a longer session. The DRC also offers parties the option to reconvene, at no cost, if more time is needed to continue a mediation session.

If you are interested in the mediation process, contact the DRC. A staff member can determine if your dispute is appropriate for mediation. You will be asked to complete a Case Data Form and submit a small fee. Your mediation session will generally be scheduled within two weeks and at a time that meets your schedule.

During the mediation session, parties in a dispute will meet with a neutral mediator who will help the parties communicate and work towards a mutual agreement. The mediation process is non-binding. If no agreement is reached during mediation, mediators have no authority to impose a decision or make a ruling and parties retain all rights to litigation. The outcome of mediation is only binding if the parties enter into a written agreement.

Mediation Fees

The DRC offers mediation services at a low cost. There is a fee for Community Cases and Court-Annexed Cases. There is no fee for cases referred to the DRC from Justice Courts, Juvenile Cases, and Small Claims Court Appeals. The fees for all other cases are as follows:

The fee for Community Cases:

  • Jefferson County residents: $20 per party
  • Out of County residents: $40 per party

The fees for Court-Annexed Cases:

  • Jefferson County Cases: $25 Scheduling fee, $150 per party
  • Out of County Cases: $50 scheduling fee, $300 per party

Mediation fees can be paid by check, cash, or money order and made payable to the Dispute Resolution Center. The scheduling fee is due before the mediation session is placed on the docket. All fees are due on or before the mediation session.

DRC Volunteer Mediators

Mediators who volunteer with the DRC are professionals from the community who meet requirements set forth by the Texas Legislature to be eligible to mediate in Texas. Each mediator has specialized training in mediation and negotiation techniques. The DRC adheres to standards set by the Texas State Legislation for training requirements in addition to standards of practice and ethics set forth by the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association, the Texas Association of Mediators, and the Texas Mediation Trainers Roundtable.

Training

The DRC provides a variety of training programs and workshops related to conflict resolution, communications, and negotiation skills.

DRC Trainings include:

  • Basic Meditation Training
  • Advanced Family Mediation Training
  • Juvenile Victim Offender Training
  • Negotiations Training
  • Communications Training
  • Conflict Management Workshops
  • Motivational Workshops
  • Custom Training for Small and Large Groups
Basic Mediation Training Application