Title 210--APPELLATE PROCEDURE
PART II. INTERNAL OPERATING PROCEDURES
[210 PA. CODE CH. 67]
Order Establishing Mediation Program; 126 M.D. No. 3
[29 Pa.B. 5064]
And Now, this 15th day of September, 1999, It Is Hereby Ordered that effective January 1, 2000 counseled appeals of orders of the courts of common pleas and counseled petitions for review of state administrative agency action filed in Commonwealth Court's appellate jurisdiction and counseled actions filed in the Court's original jurisdiction may be referred at the discretion of the Court to the Court's Mediation Program to facilitate settlement and otherwise to assist in the expeditious resolution of matters before the Court. Cases that have not been selected by the Court for mediation may be referred at any time to the Mediation Program at the request of counsel or at the direction of any en banc or three-judge panel of the Court.
Tax appeals from orders of the Board of Finance and Revenue, which are now subject to a status conference program, and all pro se matters shall be exempt from the Mediation Program. Mediation shall be offered at no cost to the parties and shall be conducted by senior judges of the Court assigned on a periodic basis by the President Judge. A senior judge selected by the President Judge shall serve as the initial coordinator of the Mediation Program and shall screen cases for mediation and otherwise manage the Mediation Program in cooperation with the Chief Clerk of the Court.
It Is Further Ordered that within ten days after receipt of the notice of appeal, petition for review or complaint, the appellant, petitioner or plaintiff shall file with the Chief Clerk the required docketing statement on a form provided by the Court at the time of the notice of appeal, petition for review or complaint is filed. The appellant, petitioner or plaintiff shall also file a Statement of Issues with the docketing statement. The Statement of Issues shall be no more than two pages in length and shall set forth a brief summary of the issues and a summary of the case necessary for an understanding of the nature of the appeal, petition for review or complaint. Service of the Statement of Issues shall be made on all parties, and an original and five copies shall be filed with the Chief Clerk's Office along with a proof of service.
Cases shall be screened for referral to mediation immediately upon the filing of the docketing statement and any other form prescribed by the Court setting forth the issues and a summary of the case. After a case has been selected for mediation, the Chief Clerk shall notify counsel for all parties by letter of the referral to the Mediation Program and of the name of the mediation judge assigned to conduct mediation. The mediation judge shall promptly contact counsel to establish the location, date and time for mediation.
Within ten days of receiving notice of mediation, counsel shall provide the mediation judge with a mediation statement of no more than five pages, setting forth the positions of counsel as to the key disputed and undisputed facts and legal issues in the case and stating whether prior settlement negotiations have occurred. The mediation statement shall also identify any motions filed and their disposition; the mediation judge may dispose of only those motions related to scheduling or to the mediation process. In actions arising under the Court's appellate jurisdiction, counsel for the appellant or the petitioner shall attach as exhibits to the mediation statement a copy of the judgment or order on appeal and any opinion or adjudication issued by the common pleas court or agency. Copies of the mediation statement need not be served upon opposing counsel unless so directed by the mediation judge. Documents prepared solely for mediation and the notes of the mediation judge shall not be filed with the Chief Clerk.
All cases referred to mediation shall remain subject to the Court's normal scheduling for briefing and/or oral argument. The Court's briefing and/or oral argument schedule shall not be modified by the Chief Clerk unless so directed by the mediation judge to accommodate mediation.
All mediation sessions must be attended by counsel for each party with authority to settle the matter and, if required, such other person with actual authority to negotiate a settlement, whether involving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a local government unit or an individual litigant. The mediation judge may at his or her discretion require the parties (or real parties in interest) to attend mediation. In cases involving the Commonwealth government, upon direction of the mediation judge, counsel shall have available someone from the appropriate agency with authority to settle who can be reached during mediation to discuss settlement if such person is not already required to be in attendance by the mediation judge. The mediation judge may in the alternative obtain the name and title of the government official or officials authorized to settle on behalf of the state or local government unit.
No future mediation shall be conducted unless the mediation judge determines that further sessions are necessary to effectuate a settlement. The mediation judge assigned to mediate a case shall attend all future mediation sessions scheduled in the case. The mediation judge shall possess authority to impose any necessary sanctions for the failure of counsel to comply with the requirements of this order.
The mediation judge shall not disclose the substance of the mediation settlement discussions and proceedings, and counsel likewise shall not disclose such discussions and proceedings to anyone other than to their clients or to co-counsel. No information obtained during settlement discussions shall be construed as an admission against interest, and counsel shall not use any information obtained during settlement discussions as the basis for any motion or application other than one related to the Court's briefing or argument scheduling. Where settlement is reached, counsel shall prepare a written settlement agreement and obtain all necessary signatures of the parties and counsel. The agreement shall be bindingupon the parties to the agreement, and after execution counsel shall file a stipulation of dismissal within ten days thereof. Where necessary or upon the request of counsel the mediation judge may enter an appropriate order approving the settlement and remanding the case to the tribunal below for its enforcement and/or implementation.
Any case not resolved by mediation shall remain on the Court's docket and proceed as if mediation had not occurred. The mediation judge shall not participate in any decision on the merits of the case. Upon the termination of mediation either through settlement and dismissal or through a continuation of the case on the Court's docket, the mediation judge shall dispose of all documents obtained during mediation unless the mediation judge determines to retain any part of non-confidential documents until final disposition of a case. In any event, the mediation statements and any other confidential documents submitted to the mediation judge shall be destroyed immediately upon the termination of mediation.
The Court's order establishing a Mediation Program shall be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and in legal newspapers throughout the Commonwealth prior to the effective date of the Mediation Program. The order shall be posted in the Chief Clerk's Office and a copy thereof shall be mailed to all counsel whose cases have been selected for mediation. The Court also shall amend its Internal Operating Procedures to incorporate the mediation procedures and shall give notice thereof simultaneously with notice of the Court's order establishing the Mediation Program. This order may be amended at the discretion of the Court.
JOSEPH T. DOYLE,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 99-1658. Filed for public inspection October 1, 1999, 9:00 a.m.]
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