The Scherer household recently added a new baby, and while I have been gushing about how wonderful he is, the Court of Appeals has been displaying similar affection for its appellate mediation program.  In the May 2015 edition of the North Carolina Lawyer, the North Carolina Court of Appeals practically shouted from the rooftop how great its civil appellate mediation program is. And to entice parties to try it, the Court has made a nice change to the program.

If all parties to the appeal consent to appellate mediation, the Court will grant an automatic 60-day briefing extension to the appellant.  I reached out to the clerk’s office to find out exactly how this automatic extension will work, and here are the specifics:

  • The new appellate mediation form will be mailed to all parties once the record on appeal is filed. Note that the appellate mediation program does not defer the cost of preparing and filing the record on appeal.
  • All parties to the appeal must consent to appellate mediation. If all parties are not in agreement, the mediation will not occur, and there will not be an automatic extension of time in the briefing schedule.
  • If all parties consent to mediation, no motion for the briefing extension has to be filed. The Court will treat the mediation consent forms as a motion for extension of time.
  • Once all the parties consent to appellate mediation, the Court of Appeals will enter a formal order specifying the new due date for the appellant’s brief—which will be 60 days from the day on which the brief was originally due.
  • If any party needs additional time past this 60-day extension for the appellant, it must file a motion requesting additional time.

A major incentive to settling a case is avoiding appellate costs. Thus, this is a very sensible change by the Court of Appeals that should encourage settlement of cases during appellate mediation.

The article also reminded everyone that the Court’s program is completely $FREE$: the Court of Appeals mediator is free, the space to hold the mediation is free, and if the distance to Raleigh is an impediment, the Court is often willing to hold the mediation session at a more convenient location for the parties.  Finally, the success rate of the mediation program is approximately 50%–pretty impressive for a free program.

What are your thoughts on this change?  What about your experiences (particularly, your personal success rate) with the appellate mediation program?  Let us know in the comments below.

-Beth Scherer