45 YEARS LATER, LAW ALUM REFLECT ON THE PROFOUND IMPACT OF MEDIATING AT THE UNIQUE CAPITAL’S NIGHT PROSECUTOR’S CRIMINAL MEDIATION PROGRAM.
In 1975, the Department of Justice’s LEAA (Law Enforcement Assistant Administration) funded an experimental criminal mediation program sponsored by Capital University School of Law. This first and successful criminal mediation program in the US was replicated by hundreds of other programs nationally and internationally. During the late 1970’s, the Prosecutor of Chillicothe, Ohio; Reynoldsburg Police Chief, Gahanna Police Chief and Newark, Ohio, Prosecutor all signed contracts with the Capital Law School to implement similar programs.
Importantly participation had a profound impact on Capital Law Alum.
Law School Mediator Testimonies:
“Having practiced family and employment law for over 40 years, and having served as a Judge in a Family law division, I am firmly committed to mediation over litigation. I am eternally grateful to have had the Night Prosecutor experience as part of my legal education. It made me a better lawyer who could teach clients that they have the power to resolve their problems rather than have orders imposed on them.” Lori K. Serratelli, L’78, Harrisburg, PA
“As a young law student, the Night Prosecutor’s Program was one of my earliest introductions to the importance of effective communications skills to the human issues of everyday life in a culturally diverse community. It gave me a lifelong understanding and appreciation of how people in crisis and their disputes can be resolved amicably.” Dale Matthews, L ‘78, retired, Ohio Parole Board Hearing Officer, Pickerington, Ohio.
“NPP was truly a life changing experience. Directly after graduation, I was hired to write an LEAA grant to start the Neighborhood Justice Center in Colorado Springs. Shortly after getting the grant, I was hired as the first Executive Director. I am very proud of the fact that the NJC is still providing mediation services for the region. I can also say that my experience at NPP showed me how it was possible to both be both an advocate and mediator as part of my law practice. Kenneth Jaray, L’79, former Mayor of Manitou Springs, CO.
“I was older than most of my colleagues in law school and thought that I had lots of experience with life issues. As a mediator and then Intake Counselor, I learned that listening was key. to avoid making assumptions and to avoid stereotyping. These skills assisted me greatly in my subsequent general practice. Alvora Varin-Hommen, L”78, Philadelphia, PA, Volunteer Mediator for EEOC, Philly.
“Working at NPP redirected my entire legal career. For the past decades I have been mediating and teaching mediation. Kim Kovach, L’78 of Austin, Texas, Law Professor
“I had a great time mediating at NPP. I was the director of the Chillicothe initiative. Although I have not been practicing mediation, Ironically my Attorney Son Lucas has now devoted his career to mediation having heard me and my Colleague Larry Ray talk of our experiences. He has even created a dispute resolution company, Senatus with Larry. Tom Vande Sande, L’77, Intellectual Property Attorney, Potomac, Maryland
“Night Prosecutors was one if those life changing experiences for me. Not only did I get my first job after law school at the City Prosecutors office because of Larry Ray’s recommendation post Night Prosecutors program but I also met my future love and wife Amy Kohlberg there.” David of Ft.Myers, FL
“Working at and directing the Night Prosecutor’s Mediation Program redirected my entire legal career. I am not sure if I had even heard of mediation before and surely did not see that as the role of the lawyer. I now have devoted my entire career to mediation, arbitration and negotiation.” Larry Ray L’77, Senior Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University School of Law and Partner, SenatusADR, Inc.
In the beginning, that is the mid 1970’s, Prosecutors and the legal system was very hesitant about criminal mediation. First, it is well known that the legal system is resistance to change. Second, to have law students mediate helping people to solve their own problems seemed to many to be a dream. So, at first, basically dog barking cases were referred to mediation. Voila! Mediation worked. Gradually more and more cases were referred. By the end of 1979, almost ½ of the criminal complaints that were brought to the prosecutor was referred to mediation with an 85% success rate. This success included many referrals to social services which led to the inclusion of social work and psychology graduate students involved.
These quotes from experienced lawyers validate the value of legal interning generally and specifically.
Today more than ever, dispute resolution skills such as negotiation and mediation are vital to any type of lawyering. 98% of all civil disputes are not litigated but settled in alternative ways. 95% of all criminal situation also are solve alternatively outside of trials. Learning these skills as a law student if valuable and profound.
I graduated from Capital University School of Law in 1977. I graduating from Muskingum University in Ohio, 1974. It is a great school and during my Senior Year my typical class size was 15. We knew all of our professors and even attended dinners at their homes. Then law school, where the classes were 100. I was disenchanted but wanted to graduate.
Fortunately along comes my Criminal Law Professor who created the first criminal mediation program in the country. I was hooked. I became a mediator in 1975, the student director and finally a Prosecutor overseeing intake and mediation. This experience directed my professional experience.