In his article, “The Disappearance of Civil Trial in the United States,” Yale Law School professor John H. Langbein explored the factors leading to civil trials having all but “vanished.” He concluded that the largest single cause of the decline in the number of jury trials was the robust and extensive fact discovery promoted, if not mandated, by the adoption of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
A recently published book chronicles the decades-long work of Hans Rosling, a social scientist and international professor of health. The book, “Factfulness,” published in the spring of 2018, reveals how human instincts and intuition lead the majority of people to see the world incorrectly.
In the 25 years since Ross Stoddard's first program on mediation, he has conducted over 4,500 additional mediations. This highlights the growth of the mediation process in Indiana and in all other states.
As the mediation process has evolved, one of the most significant changes is the trend in many jurisdictions, and among many lawyers and mediators, to dispense with the initial joint session. Perhaps because most of today’s litigators did not have experience with the pre-mediation settlement process, some of the fundamental factors and dynamics that make the joint session important in the settlement process are not evident.
The phenomenon known as the “vanishing trial” has been a topic of serious discussion, and in some quarters, serious concern, since statistics showing a marked decline in the number of criminal and civil trials were first reported in 2004.
The preamble to the mediation rule could have easily provided, as do the rules of golf, that the mediation rules are guided by the historical principles of the legal profession and the importance that mediation be conducted with integrity and in accordance with these principles.
The recent Indiana Court of Appeals decision Jonas v. State Farm Life Ins. Co., ____N.E. 3d ______, 2016 WL 1248589 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016) highlights several issues concerning mediation and settlement in both state and federal courts.