First Court of Appeals
Alternate Dispute Resolution Procedures
The Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures Act states it is the policy of this State to encourage the peaceable resolution of disputes and the early settlement of pending litigation through voluntary settlement procedures.
The Act provides the court may, sua sponte, or on the motion of either party, refer a pending case to alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
The goals of ADR are: (1) to increase party participation in, and satisfaction with, the judicial system; (2) to provide an alternate forum for readily accessible, fair, and appropriate means to resolve disputes; (3) to reduce the time and costs of litigation; and (4) to ease the court's heavy docket.
- Appellant must complete and file this court's docketing statement within 15 days of the date of the 32.1 notice letter from our court. Within that docketing statement is a mediation section. Appellant must answer every question within the mediation section. Appellee must complete the mediation docketing statement or the docketing statement within 15 days of the date of the 32.1 notice letter from our court.
- Once the completed docketing statement, including the mediation section, is returned, the court promptly reviews them to determine whether the case should be referred to mediation.
- If the case is referred to mediation, the court notifies the parties by order.
- If the case is not referred to mediation, the case continues along the normal appellate track.
- Any party may file a written objection to the ADR referral order within 10 days of the date of the order.
- The court shall review the objection and make a timely ruling after its receipt. If the court finds a reasonable basis for the objection, it will sustain the objection and withdraw the mediation order.
- The parties must agree on a qualified mediator and agree on a reasonable fee for the mediator's services. The Court does not recommend mediators. Mediation information is available from the Dispute Resolution Center of Harris County (713) 755-8274 and www.co.harris.tx.us/DRC, the Fort Bend Dispute Resolution Center (281) 342-5000, the Alternate Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Texas www.texasadr.org and other groups. The parties are not required to use a mediator recommended or listed by these groups.
- Not later than 15 days from the date that the order is issued, the parties shall file with the Clerk of the Court a completed "Parties' Notification to Court of Mediator." This document can be downloaded from the forms page of the Court's website. When the parties notify the Clerk of this Court of the name of the mediator, that person shall be deemed appointed by the Court.
- The parties should provide the mediator with a completed "Notification of Mediator" and the "Appointment and Fee Report - Mediation" form. These documents can be downloaded from the forms page of the Court's website.
- Mediation shall be conducted within 45 days of entry of the order of referral. The court may extend or change this time period at the request of a party, so long as the change does not delay administration of the court.
- No later than two days from the conclusion of the mediation, the parties and the mediator shall advise the Clerk of the Court in writing whether the parties did or did not settle the underlying dispute, and the mediator shall file with the Clerk a completed "Appointment and Fee Report - Mediation" form.
- Upon settlement, the parties must file a dispositive motion within 10 days of the date mediation successfully concludes.
- Nothing in this procedure modifies the timetables in the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure regarding the appellate record and briefs.
Standards for Mediators
- Mediators must have completed at least forty ADR training hours. For family law cases, mediators must have an additional twenty-four hours in childhood development, family law, and family dynamics.
- The court expects mediators to comply with ethical guidelines adopted by the ADR Section of the State Bar of Texas.