In response to pending budget cuts, Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb has announced her authorization for court offices to close one day per week. Additionally, Justice Cobb has notified presiding judges in all of Alabama’s judicial circuits that jury trial weeks for civil lawsuits will be cut in half. Jurors will also be asked to forgo juror and mileage payments.
Taking into consideration the number of new cases of all types filed each year (see my April 4, 2011 post regarding cutbacks facing Jefferson County), parties need to seriously consider alternatives to filing lawsuits and going to trial to resolve disputes. Courthouse closures and fewer weeks for civil jury trials will only add to the delay litigants now face. Mediation provides a faster, less expensive and confidential means to resolve most disputes.
Lawyers and their clients need to weigh all dispute resolution options available to them. Giving the parties the ability to control the resolution, the process, the timing, and the cost, makes mediation the smart choice in these difficult financial times.