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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Forms and Instructions

ADR Memorandum to Clerk of Court


About the ADR Program

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program in the Southern District of Texas is explained in District Court Local Rule 16.4. The court approves the use of the following ADR methods:

  In court-based mediation, a neutral third party facilitates discussions among the parties to assist them in finding a mutually acceptable resolution of the case.  The goal of the mediator, who may meet with the parties jointly and separately, is to help them identify their underlying interests, improve communications, and generate settlement options.  Mediation sessions are informal, confidential, generally attended by both attorneys and clients, and may occur at any point in the litigation. *
Early Neutral Evaluation:
  In a confidential session attended by attorneys and their clients, a neutral third party hears presentations by each side in the case, then gives the parties a non binding assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of their positions.  The evaluator, who is often an attorney with expertise in the subject matter of the case, also may assist parties in settlement discussions or development of a discovery plan.  Early neutral evaluation is generally used early in the litigation and is aimed more at streamlining the case than at settlement. *
Mini Trial:
  In a court-based minitrial, each side presents a brief version of its case to part representatives who have settlement authority.  A judge or other third party may preside and may assist in settlement negotiations if asked to do so after the presentations are made.  The goal is to put the case before each party's decision makers, such as the senior executives of corporate parties, who may be relatively uninformed about the case. *
Summary Jury Trial:
  In this trial-like proceeding, presided over by a judge, and in the presence of a jury, each party presents an abbreviated version of its case, usually relying on exhibits rather than live witnesses.  After receiving an advisory verdict from a jury, the parties may use the verdict as a basis for settlement discussions or may proceed to trial.  This form of ADR is generally used after discovery is complete. *
Non-binding Arbitration:
  In a hearing attended by attorneys and their clients, one or three arbitrators hear adversarial presentations by each side in the case, then issue a decision based on the facts and applicable law.  The parties may accept the decision, in which case it becomes the judgment of the court, or they may request a trial de novo.  Arbitration generally occurs after at least one core discovery has been completed.  Although witnesses frequently are not called and the Rules of Evidence may be relaxed, the arbitration hearing is a fairly formal process. *
* - Definitions are from "Guide to Judicial Management of Cases in ADR", Federal Judicial Center.