Minutes March 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011, at 11:00 a.m.
2nd Floor Conference Rood
South Carolina Bar Building
950 Taylor Street
Columbia, SC 29201

The Council met at the date, time and place indicated above.

Members Participating:
Saunders M. Bridges Jr., Vice Chairperson
Michael Battle (By Telephone)
Sean F. Keefer (By Telephone)
James L. Bell, Chairperson-Elect

Joan S. Brown, Bar Staff
Call to Order, Roll Call and Welcome: Mr. Bridges, on behalf of Mr. Griffith, called the meeting to order and welcomed those participating.

I. Reports/Old Business:
a. ADR Commission Update: Ms. Brown briefly reported the Commission’s activities:

i. Hon. Michael D. Stokes, Greenville County magistrate, reported that the newly-established magistrate court mediation program in Greenville County had exceeded expectations but that continued funding was seen as a concern. Proposed sources of funding were county funds and further grant funds, both of which were deemed good possibilities. Ms. Smock had already applied for another grant, and the county administrator had visited and was pleased with the program. Discussed was a need for educating the magistrates, particularly the non-lawyer magistrates, before the magistrate mediation program goes statewide.

ii. The Commission adopted pursuant to motion, second and unanimous vote, a proposed amendment to Rule 10(b) providing for sanctions for violation of any provision of the ADR Rules.

iii. The Commission had been asked by the Supreme Court to provide input into a voluntary Workers’ Compensation Appellate Mediation Pilot Program. The Commission discussed the various issues presented and determined that it would need to review the ADR Rules and deferred the question to the Program Committee. Discussed were how to measure success, sanctions, proposal for trained appellate mediators and attendance requirements.

iv. The Commission had been requested by the South Carolina Supreme Court to examine mediation in foreclosure cases and report back to the Court as soon as possible. Discussed was the feasibility of establishing a foreclosure Rocket Docket, with the bank agreeing to participate in the mediation process in good faith and to pay the mediator and the defendant/debtor agreeing to make an appearance in good faith. Also discussed was the need for specific criteria to give the program teeth to enforce attendance and avoid bank run around. It was also suggested that a status conference should be required in order for the lending institution to file for foreclosure.

v. The Commission Chair set the next meeting for Friday, June 3, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Columbia.

b. Sea Island Mediation Network Donation: This matter was tabled pending report by Mr. Griffith.

c. DR Section’s Web Page: Mr. Hassold and Ms. Brown were in the process of coordinating positive changes to the Section’s Web page. Ms. Brown had already added a “What’s New” section at the top of the Web page, removed some of the older Minutes, added in the most recent available Minutes and updated the text.

d. Change of Section Name: Ms. Brown reported that the Section’s name had been officially changed to the Dispute Resolution Section on January 20, 2011. Many thanks to Mr. Sowell and Mr. Hassold for their roles in getting this change accomplished.

e. Election of Council Members: Ms. Brown reported that the slate had been published in the SC Bar News and that no further nominations had been received to this point. If none were received by April 15, 2011, the slate would be deemed approved by the Section.

f. The Peace Award: Ms. Brown confirmed that the request to the South Carolina Bar Board of Governors for approval of the “Peace Award” and to change its name to the “C. C. ‘Cotton’ Harness III, Peace Award” had been granted. Many thanks to Mr. Sowell for making the presentation to the Board on behalf of the Council.

II. New Business: Mr. Bridges agreed to coordinate the seminar for the 2012 Bar Convention. Ms. Brown would notify Marley Lybrand Douglas. Suggested topics included comparative law and confidentiality.

Adjournment: There being no further business, Mr. Bridges adjourned the meeting.

Next Meeting: Mr. Bridges and Mr. Bell, who came in late due to a mix-up in time, scheduled the next meeting for 2:00 p.m. on May 20, 2011, in the South Carolina Bar Building.