The Georgia Constitution of 1983 mandates that the judicial branch of government provide "speedy, efficient, and inexpensive resolutions of disputes and prosecutions." Therefore, the Supreme Court of Georgia established a commission on alternative dispute resolution under the joint leadership of the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia and the president of the State Bar of Georgia.
The commission’s charge was to obtain information and make a recommendation regarding a statewide Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program. The result of this commission was the establishment of the State Office of Dispute Resolution and eventually the court-annexed ADR program throughout the State of Georgia. Court-annexed ADR Programs now serve 103 counties in Georgia.
ADR in the 10th Judicial Circuit
The 10th Judicial District ADR Program began on November 6, 1994, serving only the Western Circuit (Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties). The Northern Circuit (Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Madison, and Oglethorpe counties) joined in 1997, the Alcovy Circuit (Newton and Walton counties) joined in 2000. The program serves the Superior, State, Magistrate, and Probate courts of all nine counties.
Cases are referred to mediation by order of the assigned judge, by recommendation of the program director / program coordinator, or at the request of the parties (or their attorneys).
Trained, registered mediators contract with the program to conduct the mediation sessions. In Superior Court, State Court, and Probate Court cases, mediators are compensated by the parties participating in dispute resolution. Mediation services are free to parties in Magistrate Court cases. An average success rate of 68-70% greatly reduces the need for civil jury or bench trials in these courts.