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DTCI: Mediation confidentiality

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kyrouacBy Scott M. Kyrouac

The Indiana Supreme Court in Dennis Jack Horner v. Marcia (Horner) Carter, 34S02-1210-DR-582, corrected the Indiana Court of Appeals opinion that the confidentiality of mediation can be broken.

In this case, the husband Dennis Horner wanted to provide testimony about what he said at the mediation as evidence that a mistake had been made in drafting the final settlement agreement. The trial court excluded testimony about the confidential discussions. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of relief but indicated that the trial court’s exclusion of the husband’s testimony was in error.

Attorneys and mediators support the decision that what is said in mediation is confidential. The Indiana Supreme Court noted the Court of Appeals had based its decision on the Uniform Mediation Act drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. UMA would permit disclosure and discovery of conduct and statements made during mediation in certain circumstances. However, Indiana has not adopted the UMA rules. Instead, Indiana adheres to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Rule 2.11, which holds that evidence of conduct or statements made in compromise negotiations or mediation is inadmissible except when offered for a purpose other than to prove liability for or invalidity of the claim or its amount. Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote:

“Indiana judicial policy strongly urges the amicable resolution of disputes and thus embraces a robust policy of confidentiality of conduct and statements made during negotiation and mediation. The benefits of compromise settlement agreements outweigh the risks that such policy may on occasion impede access to otherwise admissible evidence on an issue.”

As both a mediator and as an attorney, this author welcomes the Supreme Court’s clarification and continued protection of the confidential nature of mediation.•

Mr. Kyrouac is the current Indiana Representative to DRI and is a former president of the association. He is a partner in Wilkinson Goeller Modesitt Wilkinson & Drummy in Terre Haute. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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