Did you address the issue of the fairness of the settlement?


Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Was there ever a point during this case where you felt the minority community may not receive the fairest deal or get the most out of the resolution?

Answer:
I see that, but again it's always who decides what's fair. We can have a couple of mediators get together for beers at the bar and discuss, " is it my job to create a fair agreement or is it my job to reach the best agreement?"

Question:
Talk to us about that difference. Is that something that a mediator thinks about?

Answer:
I think it is. A mediator runs into danger as an impartial mediator if she begins to get an image of what would be fair. I would rather have the parties describe at the beginning what they would consider fair. Then they need to look at how they present that. Then the mediator must make sure that both parties have an understanding of what the other side would consider fair.




Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How do you see your role in regard to the fairness of the settlement, in terms of what you think to be fair?

Answer:
Well, I don't get into that. When we reach the final mediation, I say "Okay, I'm going to write this up, I'm going to send it to you. I want you to look at the terms of the agreement, and to make sure that you can live with it, follow it, do it, and then we'll come together and sign it. I'm going to give you a couple of days to look at it then we'll reconvene." So, I want to be sure that we took time, and let them have the last word and let them be able to look at it and conclude "This works, this works for me. I can live up to it. It's a good agreement." Sometimes they say, "We need to come back together." I say, "Fine, let's come back together." So, I don't want anybody to feel jammed, but I want them to look at it with the time and the opportunity to look at what are the consequences of this agreement, are there things you don't want to happen, can you live up to this agreement, is it meaningful for you, does it accomplish what you thought it needed to accomplish? Then they will come to the signing and we will do that jointly. I think that's the way I handle it. We don't all have that luxury though.






Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I had a case where beatings took place on television, just like Rodney King, and the Hispanic community was very upset. There were demonstrations and marches. We finally got the Hispanic community to sit down with the county sheriffs. The county sheriffs felt they were in for a shellacking. Yet the community asked for nothing. I thought we had a real open situation where the community could ask for a number of mechanisms and strategies to avoid that kind of beating, poor police protocol, and use of force. Yet, when I got the parties together I wasn't able to clear out the issues. They knew what they wanted, they said, and I was trying to get them into the meeting. But when they came to the table they just asked for an advisory committee to the sheriff 's department as a mechanism for long-term discussions. They didn't want any precise preventions for that kind of act. It really surprised me and kind of flabbergasted me because the institution was willing to give much more then what was asked. That was the opposite of your hypothesis. You can get it either way. Prepared parties for mediation is so important.

Question:
When that happened did you work with the community to help them understand that they could be asking for more?

Answer:
You know, I didn't know if I would overstep my bounds in that situation. I thought it was incumbent among the community to decide what it wanted. The opportunities were there. They needed to say what they wanted and needed and I felt that if I prompted anything it would be perceived that I had lost my neutrality and I was pulling stuff on the table in front of the county sheriffs. I felt they had a much stronger position then they recognized.

Question:
Could that be shared in preparing them to come to the table?

Answer:
I thought I was dealing with a fairly sophisticated group and I didn't think I needed to do that, but it wasn't something I openly shared with them.






Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did issues of fairness ever come up in the settlements?

Answer:
Fairness only to some degree. Let's say from the business side that we can't do that, or we don't have the money, or we don't have the resources, or it's not in our best interests. The community side was always saying they can afford it, there's no reason why they can't pay attention to it, there's no reason why they cannot do this and that.

Question:
And how did CRS handle that situation when one side is clearly saying you have the resources to do it and the other side says you don't. What were you able to do?

Answer:
By continuing to work on a realistic program. Certainly the goal was never to put a dollar sign to it, but to begin to set aside the issues, and eventually, (this is one of the beauties of mediations) both parties find common interests and begin working at it. The final product is something that no one can envision during the process, including CRS. And that's what happened here. They all worked at it and they all found a way as to what the final package ought to look like.






Werner Petterson


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever find that you had to address the fairness of a settlement?

Answer:
No. To me, as long as the parties understood that somebody outside the agreement might say it's not fair and I can't, I don't go there.







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