Tuesday, April 12, 2016

URSP Student Jessica Gasvoda Researches Mediated Agreement Success

I am currently researching Mediated Agreement Success with Dr. Pamela Struss of the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. This is continued work that Dr. Struss has done in the past. Mediation is the process of a third party intervening in a dispute in the hopes to reach a resolution. I am studying the courtroom mediation process in the State of Virginia. I am looking at the success rate of mediation agreements in four jurisdictions for the years of 2014 and 2015; Alexandria General District Court, Prince William General District Court, Harrisonburg/Rockingham General District Court, and Amherst General District Court. I am measuring whether an agreement was fully satisfied, or if an agreement failed, based on whether the two parties carried out the agreement completely. If a case was satisfied, it would have been dismissed whereas a failed agreement would result in a judgment.

I became interested in this project after taking a Mediation Certificate training course with Dr. Struss last semester. I was interested in becoming a mediator and the course allowed me to learn about courtroom mediation and the processes of this in relation to the legal system. Dr. Struss told our class about her past research on mediation agreement success in the State of Virginia for the years 2012 and 2013. She was interested in continuing this research and I became very interested as well. I thought it would be beneficial to apply what I was learning in the classroom to a real life setting. I also thought this would allow me to analyze the mediation process in the courts and if there needed to be changes made to ensure a higher success rate.

On a weekly basis I have been visiting the different courts and collecting their mediation data from 2014 and 2015. I then take that information and use the Virginia General District Court Online Case Information System to determine whether a case has been satisfied or failed. I have also been looking at current courtroom mediation processes, and how they can potentially be improved to result in a higher agreement success rate. This week I finished analyzing the Prince William General District Court agreement success and failure rate. I found that Prince William has a higher rate of mediation agreement success than Alexandria. I still need to collect the data for Harrisonburg and Amherst in order to compare the numbers of these districts as well. After all the data is collected, I will conduct a phone survey with a random sample of mediation participants in these districts to determine why some agreements are satisfied while others fail. I have been approved by the IRB to conduct this survey.