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Court ADR Instruction Manual

Court Rule Nuts & Bolts

One of the most important tasks a court must undertake in the creation of an ADR program is to write rules for it that are clear, unambiguous, and thorough. Below are sample rules selected and annotated to assist courts in this process.

Deeper discussion of the writing of court ADR rules is found in the attached PDF file. Good sample rules to help courts in writing their rules are below.

Need help with your court mediation rules? Ask RSI, the Court ADR Experts
Beyond offering resources on this site, RSI also works with courts to develop mediation programs. We have helped many courts write or revise their court rules. For information about how we could help you, please email us.

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To help courts with the writing of rules, Resolution Systems Institute has identified good rules governing ADR programs in the courts. The rules, which are listed below, come from state and federal courts for programs for civil, family, child dependency, probate, bankruptcy, and appellate cases. They cover mediation, arbitration, early neutral evaluation, summary jury trials, and other processes. The rules are to be used as samples only; please be aware that the rule may have changed since being selected for this site.

Rule Selection
After examining almost 1000 rules, we selected 16. Our goal was to have one to three samples for each type of program. When more than one rule is provided for a particular case type, we have tried to select rules that differ significantly from one another. In making the decision as to which rules to include, we assumed that they would be used as models that could be adapted to a court's specific context. With this in mind, while also recognizing that no rule is perfect, we selected rules that were well-written, with no parts that were totally off-base. Further, the rules had to cover all the necessary bases. Finally, the rules had to be written and structured in a way that they could be useful to other jurisdictions. Rules that had a language or structure that were specific to a particular jurisdiction were not selected.

We also made some judgment calls and decided not to include rules containing some of the more controversial issues in the field. The samples do not contain annotations that discuss in detail whether to use a particular item and why; therefore, certain controversial issues were left out. So, for example, no sample rule has a good faith requirement for the participants because there is disagreement about whether they are a good idea. Those looking for rules with such a requirement can find them among the other rules on this site that are accessible through the Resource Center.

Once those criteria were met, we then looked for rules that in some way rose above the others. Rules were selected if they were particularly good in dealing with a specific issue, or if they were particularly well organized and written.

Rule Summaries
To aid courts in selecting rules for their own use, we created a cover page for each rule that provides a summary of the rule, including the case types and processes covered and any related statutes or rules. The summary is followed by bulleted lists highlighting the especially good aspects of the rule as well as interesting approaches to a particular topic.

Some of the bullets mentioned above discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a specific aspect of the rule. Other bullets offer links to resources that provide further discussion about a specific topic that will better inform those writing rules. We encourage you to follow those links to get more in-depth and nuanced information regarding some of the more important aspects of an ADR program.

Support and Advice
We are very grateful to the JAMS Foundation for its generous support of the collection and summarization of these court ADR rules. RSI also extends our gratitude to the Advisory Committee for this project, whose advice we greatly value. Any errors are ours, however, and not those of the Foundation or the Committee.

State Courts

Federal Courts

State Courts : General ADR

State Courts : Civil Cases - Mediation

State Courts : Civil Cases - Arbitration

State Courts : Family Cases

State Courts : Child Dependency

State Courts : Appellate

Federal Courts : Bankruptcy

Federal Courts : District

Federal Courts : Appellate