Can you recall any times when assuring confidentiality created a problem for you?


Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did that confidentiality you promised them ever create a problem? Were you always able to stick to it?

Answer:
To my knowledge, I have. I don't know when I've broken confidentiality. When I talk about confidentiality, you know we have press conferences after some of our mediations. All I'm saying is that, we don't talk about specifics, or what's discussed in the mediation.

Question:
But you've never had a problem telling a party, receiving something in confidence, that you then feel you need to share with the other party?

Answer:
I may feel that it's the right thing to do, but I have not stepped over that bounds, unless they have given me permission or unless they've conveyed it, I don't think I've ever violated that confidentiality.






Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Does the confidentiality requirement create a problem for you? Have you ever found a situation where you found it necessary to violate the confidentiality in a case or matter?

Answer:
I never had a criminal matter come up in my sessions or anything like that. I think confidentiality has been part of the process of gaining the acceptance and confidence of people.

Question:
Do they accept it when you tell them you will hold what they say in confidence?

Answer:
I think so. Part of it is they're accepting you and the ground rules. Sometimes it's part of the selling or marketing process. I must say that it usually is not a big issue. I have not seen that as a problem. I think there is a greater acceptance in the latter part of my career for the whole process of community mediation than there was in the beginning. There were many more barriers to what we were trying to do and how we were doing it. It's more the environment really.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What are some of the things that you did to insure confidentiality during these conversations? How did you let people know, "Hey, this is just between us and it's confidential.

Answer:
I'd tell them, "Now, if you're interested in getting this thing to be a success, the only place that we're going to discuss these issues is here. If you wish to discuss them amongst yourselves, that's fine. But if you take it out of your ring, then we're not going to be part of that," and if it was important enough for them that you be there, then they'd abide by it. I never had anybody -- not that I was especially important -- but I never had anyone not abide by that. Also built-in by both the official people, as well as the community people -- there's a built-in distrust of the media. So you say, "Don't deal with them, because they'll make a situation unmanageable when it really is manageable." So they're pretty good about that, too.

Question:
Was there ever a time when you'd tell them, "Hey, we're going to keep it between us," but them something got leaked to the media and people looked at you and said, "I think you said something."

Answer:
No. What we did wasn't that important that the media was around. Even if you said, "Hey, we're doing this, come over here." Nothing like what happened with that get-together after the riots, even though that attracted a lot of media.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Does confidentiality ever become a problem?

Answer:
Only to that degree. The nature of the business that we deal with is such that it becomes almost second nature to us, that unless somebody specifically tells us not to say something, we almost know not to. The example that I gave you is a good example. It's common, that they will say, "Well, I don't know what the heck they're talking about. I mean look, here's what I'm going to do." I did share these with one of them, but also held that individual to the same confidentiality. Because I've always told employees and everybody else, "It is confidential only until we get to the point that it going to be public." We have no secrets. We do work with a lot of confidential information, but it's confidential only for a very short period of time.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever find that any of the assurances of confidentiality backfired?

Answer:
Well, I'd rather not answer that question if you don't mind.

Question:
You can say yes or no . . .

Answer:
Yes.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Have you ever run into a situation where you're doing well at building trust between the parties and then one of them does something that breaks it all down? They violate an agreement or something they said they were going to do, or they leak information?

Answer:
There might have been where they perceived that there was a breach of confidence. We analyze whether there was or wasn't, and if there was, what effects does it have on the overall goal that they're trying to achieve. If they see it to their benefit to keep discussions going because they see they're benefiting, although somebody slipped up somewhere, then it's not really important when you look at the big picture. But they have to decide that. Since discussions are voluntary, they can withdraw any time. They have to decide if it's worth it for them to keep going, in spite of the fact they thought something had occurred. But also you can have them talk it out and maybe it was a misunderstanding, it wasn't that person's perception that what he or she was saying was violating the agreement or there was a breach of confidence let's say. They need to see that by continuing the dialogue everybody's going to be better off.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did confidentiality ever become a problem?

Answer:
Oh yes. Confidentiality became a problem a lot of times.

Question:
In what way?

Answer:
There were times when somebody wanted to come in and know who was responsible for something, and you couldn't really say too much about it. Like in Wounded Knee for example. There were other agencies who came running in wanting to talk to us about who might have done something. I would say "I can't tell you that." "But you were down in the compound and you met all of those people down there. We weren't allowed to go down." "Well, we can't tell you who did what, because we would be violating confidentiality, and then we couldn't get anything done, we couldn't operate because they wouldn't have any confidence in us. They'd call us a lot of snitches and we weren't snitches. That was a big misconception. Both sides thought we were snitching for somebody and we weren't. The people that I worked with in CRS were pretty trustworthy, sincere, honest individuals who wanted to do the right thing and wanted to find the ways by which we can get some of this racial conflict and other conflict resolved. They had been human rights workers, some of them. Some of them had done other things, some of them were even in law enforcement. But they wanted to see this mean-spiritedness reduced seriously. So most of those individuals that you're going to talk to are people who went about their work and their business trying not to do harm to other people.






Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did confidentially ever become a problem? We talked about it some yesterday in terms of the fact that you try to avoid it when you can, but did it ever become a major issue?

Answer:
I don't think a major issue.

Question:
Was there ever a time when you insured party confidentially and you were unable to maintain that? Where something happened and one party felt that you weren't holding true to your word?

Answer:
Accusing me of violating confidentiality?

Question:
Yes.

Answer:
No, I don't recall any.

Question:
Or the other groups. Did they ever accuse the opposing group of violating confidentially?

Answer:
I can't remember off hand. There may have been concerns about the possibility of it, but as I mentioned earlier it never was a major issue. Allegations of violation of confidentiality I don't think ever became major issues.

Question:
Was it something you could just dismiss as something as not being true, or did you just not ever address it at all?

Answer:
Oh if it was of concern to one of the parties I might raise it during a joint session.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How does that effect your job, and the ways that you do your job?

Answer:
It's just a part of it, wherever I go, whoever I talk to. It keeps me really clean that I can back up whatever I tell anybody. I tell them in private and if there's something confidential that they're telling me I always say, "Can I share that information with the other side?" And they tell me yes or no. "Can I even tell them that I'm talking to you?" They say yes, or they'll say no, and I protect that, but I assume you never know.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What about violating confidentiality?

Answer:
Well, when we went into formal mediation we would address the press issue and it might be that all statements will be made by the mediator, by representatives of each party, or we will jointly put out a statement after each session. Very often they would say why donít you talk of that and then when the agreement is announced, if there is one, have the parties step out from the background. You donít want to be taking their space. Itís their victory, itís not yours and itís easy to want to be there.







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