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Portage County Common Pleas Court has been selected by the Ohio Supreme Court as one of only 12 such courts in Ohio to participate in a program aimed at determining if mediation is a fitting resolution for certain civil stalking cases.
Judge Laurie Pittman announced this week that the court was selected by the Ohio Supreme Court's Commission on Dispute Resolution to participate in its Civil Stalking Protection Order Mediation pilot program.
Recently announced by the state high court, the program in 12 selected county courts will also be used to establish standards for all other courts throughout Ohio, the state high court announced.
Pittman applied and was awarded the program because Portage's court "has a strong, established mediation program with experienced personnel and facilities," she said. Only 11 other courts in Ohio were selected and agreed to go through the additional training and seminars required to participate.
The program will be used to determine if certain civil stalking protection order cases are "better suited for mediation rather than being processed through traditional means."
Among the rules for the program are that participants must be willing to negotiate a satisfactory agreement and be willing participants who have not been coerced or intimidated into mediating the cases.
Many such disputes occur between coworkers or neighbors, according to the Ohio Supreme Court. Cases involving violent conduct, domestic violence, sexual assault or other sexually oriented offenses will not be eligible for mediation under the program, the high court noted.
Temporary rules put in place starting June 1 include what parts of mediation and what communications are confidential or privileged between the mediator and the parties involved, as well as what access the public is allowed to the evaluation of the program and additional information.
For example, allegations of child abuse or neglect, threats of violence or ongoing crimes revealed during mediation must be reported to a judge, magistrate or the proper police agency, according to the rules of the program.