On March 28, 1994, the Cobb County Magistrate
Court became the first court
to implement a volunteer mediation program for small claims cases. Since that time, the program has expanded
to allow for the mediation of dispossessory cases and warrant
mediators are state registered by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution
under the Georgia Supreme Court
a process by which a Neutral facilitates settlement discussions between
parties. The Neutral has no
authority to make a decision or impose a settlement upon the parties. The Neutral attempts to focus the
attention of the parties upon their needs and interests rather than upon
rights and positions. In the absence
of a settlement, the parties are still eligible to appear before a judge to
plead their case.
Q. What Are the Benefits of Mediation?
allows you to control your own dispute and resolve the problem yourself
rather than having a judge decide it for you.
Mediation is also fast and cost effective. There is no additional cost to
participate in the mediation program. In a mediation session, everyone has
the opportunity to voice their concerns and the privilege of speaking
Q. What is the Mediator's Role?
mediator does not act in the capacity of an attorney and is not an advocate
for either party. The mediator
facilitates discussions and assists parties in reaching an agreement. The mediator shall at all times remain
neutral, unbiased, and shall act in good faith.
Q. What evidence should be brought to
A. During mediation, parties should exchange any evidence that might
potentially be presented to a judge at trial (i.e. pictures, contracts, lease
agreements, etc.). If a settlement
agreement is not reached and the parties proceed to trial, evidence that
has not first been viewed by the other party will not be considered by the
Q. Are witnesses allowed?
A. Witnesses should be kept to a minimum, as mediation is not
an advocacy or fact-establishing forum. Witnesses are allowed at the
discretion of the Mediator and the opposing party.
Q. Is mediation confidential?
A. Information gathered during the mediation session is confidential
and privileged. Any settlement
offers discussed in mediation shall not be presented to the judge. In addition, neither the mediator nor any
court designee shall willingly testify for or against either party
involved, should either party end the mediation process and litigate the
matter in court.
Q. Is their a cost for mediation?
A. Mediation for the Cobb
County Magistrate Court is voluntary and
free. The program initially received
a $20,000 grant from the Georgia Commission on Alternative Dispute
Resolution to cover start-up costs.
In addition, a portion of the fee collected for each claim filed is
designated for the purpose of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). As such, the Court is able to offer the
assistance of highly trained mediators to parties who are willing to
attempt settlement prior to trial at no cost to either party.
Q. How are mediations scheduled?
A. On days when civil court is in session, mediators will be available
to assist parties with the facilitation of negotiations prior to
trial. If a settlement agreement is
not reached, the parties will return to the courtroom to present their case
to a magistrate judge. On days when
civil court is not in session, the Mediation Office will hold special set
mediations for parties interested in trying to settle their case prior to
their court date. The number for the
Mediation Office is (770) 528-8935.