U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Hosting Settlement Conferences: Effectiveness in the Judicial Role

NCJ Number
Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution Volume: 3 Issue: 1 Dated: (1987) Pages: 1-77
W Brazil
Date Published
77 pages
This article examines the role a judge can play in facilitating a productive settlement conference.
A judge who hosts a settlement conference must remember that parties and their lawyers settle lawsuits; judges do not. Therefore, while a judge can help to create a positive environment for settlement, a judge should not consider the parties' failure to settle as a personal failure. Judges who host settlement conferences should possess a blend of humility and self-assurance and should have an accurate sense of their own limitations. They should realize that the skills needed to aid in reaching settlement are unlike those used in presiding at trials. They must show patience, tolerate digressions that often seem off the point, and convey a willingness to support and facilitate rather than to judge. Judges must also develop skill in identifying those times in the pretrial period when settlement conferences might be productive. Often, settlement conferences are productive when the parties face an imminent fixed trial date or when the judge can demonstrate that major expenses can be avoided by an early settlement. Judges also need skill in structuring settlement conferences. Some judges find it helpful to require counsel to identify what information is needed before serious efforts to settle can be undertaken. Additionally, a judge should learn as much as possible about a case by requiring counsel to submit detailed settlement statements that define the environment in which the negotiations will take place. The judge should require counsel to describe any previous negotiations between the parties. The pros and cons detailed 'roadmaps' for conducting various kinds of of different settlement conference formats are discussed, and settlements are provided. 90 footnotes.