No. The Ninth Circuit electronic filing system is completely different from that of the district court. New registration is required along with a new user ID and password. Any questions about passwords or user IDs should be directed to the ECF help desk.
If counsel is not registered with CM/ECF and the MQ is due soon, can the MQ deadline be extended and, if so, by how many days?
We recommend contacting the Mediation Office to ask for an extension. The length of an extension depends on the circumstances, but generally one to two weeks can be expected.
What is a Settlement Assessment Conference?
After reviewing the Mediation Questionnaire, the mediators select cases for a telephonic Settlement Assessment Conference, the purpose of which is to engage counsel in a discussion about whether the case might benefit from settlement efforts. The conference includes a discussion of the case’s history, counsel’s views on whether mediation would be appropriate, and the mediator’s explanation of possible settlement procedures. During the conference (or sometimes during a subsequent follow-up conference), counsel and the mediator will decide whether to include the case in the mediation program.
Who is expected to participate in a Settlement Assessment Conference?
The court expects that all counsel intending to file briefs in the case participate in the conference. If more than one attorney is representing a party, then the attorney with the most direct relationship with the client should participate. Co-counsel and other attorneys in the principal counsel’s firm may attend if counsel believes their presence would be beneficial. Clients are not expected to participate in the initial assessment conference.
Is attendance at the Settlement Assessment Conference mandatory?
Yes. Attendance by counsel at the initial Settlement Assessment Conference is ordered by the court and is mandatory.
Do clients participate in the Settlement Assessment Conference and other telephone conferences?
Clients are discouraged from participating in the initial Settlement Assessment Conference call. Depending upon the case, clients may participate in subsequent phone conferences, and will always participate in in-person sessions, but the initial Settlement Assessment Conference is intended for counsel only.
What if counsel is not available for the Settlement Assessment Conference as scheduled?
The mediation program will reschedule the initial Settlement Assessment Conference if counsel has a pre-existing obligation. Counsel should contact the mediation office by telephone [415-355-7900], fax [415-355-8566], or email (see Assessment Conference order) to request that the case be rescheduled. Ideally, counsel will have contacted opposing counsel first, and will include with the request a list of alternate dates and times available to all counsel.
Who initiates the call?
In most cases, the mediator will initiate the call to all counsel listed in the court’s order setting up the conference. On occasion, the call will be scheduled as a dial-in call, the instructions for which will be set forth as a confidential attachment accessible only to counsel of record. If the order contains incorrect information, it is important that counsel correct this information before the call.
How long will the conference last?
The initial assessment conference typically lasts from 30 to 60 minutes. Subsequent telephone conferences can vary in length, depending upon the nature and scope of the discussions.
Does a mediation statement need to be submitted?
No mediation statement is required for the initial assessment conference. If the case progresses further in the mediation process, the mediator may request that counsel submit mediation statements.
What does the mediator know about the appeal and what documents are available to the mediator before the Settlement Assessment Conference takes place?
Prior to holding the Settlement Assessment Conference, the mediator will have reviewed the Mediation Questionnaire filed by the appellant, the Ninth Circuit docket, and the lower court order from which the appeal stems. Sometimes the Mediation Questionnaire and the order appealed from contain a great deal of information, other times they contain very little. In all instances, the mediator will give counsel the opportunity to explain their view of the case.
Who are the mediators?
The mediators are all experienced attorneys who come from a variety of backgrounds. All are highly trained in mediation and negotiation. The mediators are employees of the court and many of them have been mediating for the court for ten to twenty years or more. See The Ninth Circuit Mediators, below.
Are mediators assigned a particular appeal according to its subject matter?
No. Appeals and petitions for review are assigned to mediators randomly, regardless of subject matter, with one exception. All Washington district court cases and all petitions for review related to the Bonneville Power Administration are assigned to Chris Goelz.
Can the parties select a particular mediator from the program?
No, with the exceptions/listed particular in the answers to question 15, cases are assigned to the individual mediators in a random fashion. A mediator will, however, handle all related cases. In the event that related matters have been overlooked, requests to send them to the mediator with the earliest appeal are encouraged.
What if the parties wish to hire a private mediator?
If parties wish to hire a private mediator, the circuit mediator will manage the appeal (including adjustment of the briefing schedule) to accommodate the private mediation. The Ninth Circuit does not refer cases to private mediators, nor does it use a panel of private volunteer mediators.
Can the mediators move or vacate the briefing schedule?
Yes. The mediators can vacate or extend the briefing schedule, but will do so only if all counsel are in agreement. If counsel cannot agree, a motion must be filed.
Does involvement of an appeal in the mediation program slow down the disposition of the appeal?
No. Typically if a case is mediated, the mediator (with the agreement of counsel) will vacate the briefing schedule. If the case does not settle, the mediator will establish a new briefing schedule. Doing so does not delay disposition of the appeal, as the court schedules oral argument or decision without oral argument based on the date the Notice of Appeal is filed, not on the dates the briefs are filed. In most cases, oral argument is scheduled more than 12 months after the filing of a notice of appeal, which usually allows enough time to mediate and brief, without delaying disposition of the case. In the case of an appeal from a preliminary injunction order, which are expedited by statute and court rules, participation in the Mediation Program may delay disposition.
If an appeal is in the program, will the mediation take place in person? If so, where will it occur?
Each case is unique. One of the mediator’s tasks is to make sure that the mediation process meets the needs of all participants, to the greatest extent possible. Thus, in one case, the mediator will schedule multiple conferences over the telephone, while in another he or she will hold an in-person mediation. When an in-person mediation is scheduled, the mediator will make every effort to hold the session in a location that is as convenient as possible for the greatest number of participants. Mediators will travel to locations throughout the Ninth Circuit when warranted.
Is there a cost to my client of participating in the mediation program?
No. The mediation program is a service of the court and is provided free of charge.
Does the mediation office take pro se cases, i.e. cases where at least one party is not represented by counsel?
No. The Ninth Circuit General Orders exempt pro se cases from participation in the program.
Can I request that my case be included in the mediation program?
Yes. In any counseled case, counsel may send a request to be included in the program to the Chief Circuit Mediator. Such requests will be held confidential if requested.
How does appellate mediation differ from mediation at the District Court level?
Mediation at the appellate level is not particularly different from mediation at the District Court level. In both instances mediators help parties to explore their interests, think creatively, and develop solutions. The difference is that on appeal, a judge, jury or administrative agency has rendered an appealable decision. Sometimes that decision resolves all of the substantive issues in the case, and sometimes it resolves only some of them (e.g., appeals from preliminary injunctions or decisions about qualified immunity). Either way, the decision and what is likely to happen to it on appeal, become part of the parties’ risk analysis. Some cases lend themselves to appellate mediation better than others. See What Makes a Case a Good Candidate for Appellate Mediation?, above.
Now that the court is using electronic filing, how is the confidentiality of mediation materials maintained?
Any document electronically filed with the court’s clerk’s office is not confidential and will appear on the court’s electronic docket. The mediators can cause the clerk to remove mistakenly filed confidential documents after the fact, but counsel should exercise care in the first instance to avoid the filing of confidential documents with the court. All messages, correspondence, mediation statements or other documents sent by fax or email to the Mediation Program or the individual mediators’ are maintained separately from the court’s electronic filing and are confidential.