County and courts join for dispute resolution program

By From page A10 | February 01, 2013

The County of El Dorado and the Superior Court are partnering to continue the highly successful Alternative Dispute Resolution program. The program is an alternative way to resolve civil disputes without the burden of litigation, according to a prepared statement from the county’s Chief Administrative Office.

The key to Alternative Dispute Resolution is the trained, impartial persons who decide disputes, or help parties decide disputes themselves. The sides typically meet with a Dispute Resolution Officer at a case management conference within 120 days after the case is filed. At the conference they discuss the various procedures for alternative dispute resolution, select the one best suited to their case, and set timelines for completion, usually 60 days after the case management conference.

The most common forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution are mediation, arbitration and case evaluation. In excess of 90 percent of all civil cases filed in El Dorado County Superior Court resolve by agreement, the statement notes.

“Alternative Dispute Resolution is generally a cheaper, faster way to resolve many civil cases, and it allows court and county resources to focus on more critical cases,” said Don Ashton, program coordinator with the CAO’s Office.

Under state law, county government collects an $8 fee on all civil actions filed in court. In turn, the county recently entered into a four-year contract with the court to fund the Alternative Dispute Resolution program.

Since the program’s inception in 1994, the court has reduced the civil case backlog by more than 50 percent. The number of cases pending more than two years has decreased by 75 percent.

Additional information about the Alternative Dispute Resolution program, including a brochure titled, “You Don’t Have to Sue,” is available at, or by calling 530-621-7629. For other related information, contact Don Ashton at 530-621-5515.

Chris Daley

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