Skip to content

Program is in search of volunteer mediators

EL RENO – A program that puts the two sides of a court case in charge of their own outcome is looking for volunteers to make the program a success.
Brenda Detamore, program director for the Early Settlement Mediation West Program, told the Canadian Commissioners that it is looking for volunteer mediators.
Detamore is in charge of the program, which is based in the Canadian County Courthouse, as well as in Grady County.
“We do small claims, divorce and family issues,” she said. “We try to settle cases among the parties.”
The benefit, she said, is that the parties to the case have the opportunity to settle their case without going before a judge.
“We empower them to make decisions on their own so they don’t have to have a judge make the final decisions,” she said.
Detamore said most cases are family and domestic cases.
She said going through mediation gives the people who know the best outcome the opportunity to make the proper choices.
“We allow them to discuss their issues and we provide them time to decide how they want to resolve their issues,” she said. “The alternative is to go to court and let the judge decide the outcome.”
Mediation also often reduces legal fees, because not everything is being decided in the courtroom.
“The Mediation program does shorten caseloads that are clogged with family and small claims cases,” she said.
Special Judge Barbara Hatfield agreed the program is needed.
“Mediation is of great assistance to us. A lot of people will come to court, these are the same people who at one time couldn’t live out each other, who are now telling us the worst of the worst. When they leave the courtroom, what are they going to remember? ‘I can’t believe you said that in court.’ Mediation is a great way for them to not have to follow the rules of evidence, the normal procedures,” the judge said.
Hatfield said she requires every civil or family related case assigned to her to go through mediation before going to court.
Last month, Detamore said the program added 40 cases in Canadian County.
“We need volunteers,” Detamore said.
There is no cost to participate. The program is funded through the administrative offices of the court. Training is provided.
“Once they are trained, they are assigned as a mediator,” she said.
Mediators work at several area libraries, including Mabel C. Fry Library in Yukon, as well as at the courthouse.
Detamore said volunteers could give as few as three hours per month.
“This is a great nonconfrontational avenue that is available. People can take control over their lives and the lives of their children,” said Judge Hatfield.
The program has been in place since September 2011, said Hatfield.
The success rate is about 70 percent, Detamore said.
“Even if all they agree on is custody, that’s one less thing the judge will have to decide,” she said.

Leave a Comment