The Florida Supreme Court’s Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee (MEAC) has been issuing formal advisory ethics opinions to certified and court-appointed mediators since 1994. MEAC opinions deal with mediation-related ethics questions governed primarily by Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators.
This is my summary of the significant MEAC opinions for 2016. Each summary is hyper-linked to a copy of the original source document.
A mediator is responsible for safeguarding the mediation process. In the scenario described by the inquirer, if the mediator decides that the process is best served by using caucus as a procedural tool, there is no rule which prohibits the mediator from doing so.
Florida Supreme Court mediator certification does not convey the title or role of ”Officer of the Court.”
When mediating cases subject to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, a mediator cannot comply with rule 1.730(b) without confirming that the verbal agreement has been reduced to writing and signed by all parties and their attorneys, if any. The method by which the mediator complies with rules 10.420(c) and 1.730(b) together is determined by the mediator.
Rule 1.730(b) cannot be satisfied by a verbal mediation agreement. In MEAC 2015-005, the Committee noted that rule 10.420(c) does not require the mediator to write something regarding the terms of the agreement prior to the close of the mediation session if the parties have agreed who will memorialize the agreement and the process for its formalization.
When mediating cases subject to the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the mediator has an obligation to follow up with the parties and their counsels to make sure the verbal mediation agreement is reduced to writing and signed by all parties and their attorneys, if any, prior to making a report to the court.
In the example presented, the mediator would report “no agreement” under rule I. 730(b). There is no provision in Chapter 44, Mediation Alternatives to Judicial Action, or any Florida trial or appellate court procedural rule that authorizes a mediator to report a verbal mediation agreement to the court.