Partner Christie Moore offers opinion on felony mediation in the latest edition of Louisville Bar Association Bar Briefs
How effective could mediation be in criminal cases? BGD partner Christie A. Moore and former president of the Louisville Bar Association Charles E. Ricketts Jr. debated the possible answers to this question in the April 2014 edition of LBA Bar Briefs. The two co-authored the article entitled, “Felony Mediation in Jefferson County – Restorative Justice at Last?”. In the article, they explore the pros and cons of referring criminal cases to mediation in Jefferson County and across the state.
In Nov. 2013, 10 criminal cases were approved for mediation in the Louisville area. This number may not seem high, but the defendants in these cases were being charged with felony crimes. Traditionally, civil cases are more commonly referred to mediation. However, Moore suggested that mediation for criminal cases is nothing new for Kentucky. Since 2004, more and more criminal cases have been referred to mediation in counties throughout the state.
Is there a reason for this upward trend? According to Moore, “Mediation allows victims to be more involved in the process of determining the disposition of the case and its consequences for the perpetrator. Therefore, the process can be incredibly empowering for a victim."
Those opposed to felony mediation argue that coming face-to-face with their perpetrators can be traumatizing for victims in cases involving violence or sex offenses. As a way to address this, mediators often suggest that the defendant and victim do not share the same space.
“The mediation rules, which will need to be revamped to accommodate felony proceedings, are well suited to address any potential problem areas,” said Moore. She also points out that mediation can save valuable court time, judicial resources and provide the victim and defendant a better opportunity for more meaningful discourse and exchange. This could, perhaps, provide a deeper understanding of the crime and help prevent the same defendant from committing future crimes.
With previous mediation results showing promise, and with mediators willing to take on the challenge, felony mediation may have a place in the future for justice systems throughout Kentucky.