January 24, 2012

Press Release and Open Letter for NY CDRCs


Continuing our support for New York Community Dispute Resolution Centers' ongoing Mediation Postcard Campaign, NAFCM is distributing a press release and open letter to NY's judiciary (complete letter below).

We encourage our colleagues throughout the field to show your support by lending your name to the campaign today!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 24, 2012

The Honorable Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman
New York State Court of Appeals
25 Beaver Street
New York City, New York 10004

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman:

I am pleased to provide this letter in support of the critical work performed by New York’s Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRC) and in advocacy of the restoration of their funding by the judiciary.

As a deeply entrenched and valued state service, New York’s CDRCs daily lend their expertise to countless citizens facing all manner of destructive and harmful conflicts. Addressing issues ranging from commonplace nuisances to life-altering victimization, these programs generously share of their skills and resources for the benefit of all New Yorkers. Through their services, CDRCs empower individuals facing difficult situations to undertake collaborative dialogues that collectively serve to enhance entire communities’ quality of life.

Not merely relegated to abstracted impact, however, New York’s network of CDRCs produce real financial benefit throughout the state. These programs closely collaborate with local courts to provide expedient, durable alternatives to litigation which otherwise gum the wheels of justice and limit adversaries’ broader market impact. They reduce public expenditures associated with criminal recidivism, repeat calls for police service, and the reliance upon code enforcement to encourage neighborly conduct. These programs engage the state’s workforce; enhancing its conflict competence and reducing tension-induced productivity losses such as absenteeism. Through their work rebuilding relationships, relieving tensions, and realizing positive outcomes to anxiety- and stress-laden situations, conflict-related health care costs are also contained. Indeed, the accumulated and cascading financial savings achieved through CDRCs’ constructive conflict engagement are substantial and a necessary component of both near- and long-term judicial and broader state budgeting.

Unfortunately, despite these many contributions toward access to justice, economic impact, and quality of life, New York’s CDRCs’ very survivability is in great peril. Contained within the Court’s Fiscal Year 2012-2013 “Itemized Estimates of the Financial Needs of the Judiciary” (December 01, 2011) is the continuance of harmful reductions to the judiciary’s Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Improvement Program. First enacted during Fiscal Year 2011-2012, these continued ablations promise to further diminish New Yorkers’ access to justice; generating various unintended consequences contravening the aforementioned benefits and further challenging the judiciary to take an even greater role in conflicts far beyond its preferred and qualified purview.

Comprising some of the State’s most accomplished mediation professionals, CDRC administrators acknowledge the need to balance varying legitimate interests during this necessary time of heightened fiscal responsibility. Uniquely equipped for such discussions, I strongly encourage you and your colleagues to seek out the wisdom represented in these accessible, professional, and pragmatic peacemakers. Their specialized knowledge of collaborative processes and exemplary skills in both facilitating difficult discussions and negotiating creative resolutions from narrow opportunity would surely benefit the Judiciary’s solemnly tasked leadership. Through direct contact with these judicial partners and a deeper appreciation for their critical contributions, I am confident a revised, yet prudent fiscal allocation -- commensurate with the ADR Program’s impact -- could be achieved. To expedite your ability to engage the citizens’ mediators, please review the State’s complete list of CDRCs currently serving New York in all of its 62 counties: http://www.nycourts.gov/ip/adr/cdrc.shtml. Of course, your own trusted advisors within the judiciary’s Office of ADR and Court Improvement may also speak to the exceptional, compelling work performed by these centers.

Whether through their skilled assistance or judicial reliance upon visioned action, I strongly encourage you to restore New York’s laudable, historic support for critical community dispute resolution services. Your decision to retain judicial and financial support for community mediation is an unequivocal endorsement of greater access to justice, the constructive resolution of conflict, and the pursuit toward increasingly peaceful New York communities. In these trying times, your support of CDRCs is desperately needed and supremely appreciated by the countless citizens benefiting from these programs’ many irreplaceable services.

Thank you for your considered attention to this important matter, Justice Lippman. If there is any additional information or support I may lend to further inform your important decision making, please feel to contact me directly. I also encourage you to seek the wisdom and explore the assistance of the aforementioned CDRCs currently serving your great State.

In community,
Justin R. Corbett
Executive Director
National Association for Community Mediation

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