Reflections on Mediation

Hon. Ellen Sickles James (Ret.)
Hon. Ellen Sickles James (Ret.)
JAMS Mediator, Arbitrator and Referee/Special Master

Published December 1, 2017

Having served on the Contra Costa Bench for over 21 years, I was accustomed to the role of judge. After two decades in the courtroom with the continuous flow of disputes and a daily calendar of issues to be decided, I became adept at the routine of listening, evaluating and deciding. My role and focus was to learn the facts, apply the law, and hopefully do justice. The judicial function is structured and constrained by rules of evidence and set procedures, formalized, recorded and subject to review. The idea is to receive information, to be sure, but also to control the flow, to keep arguments within set boundaries, and consider and hear only what is appropriate and germane. The role of the judge is unquestionably tough, making decisions that are in every case so impactful to the parties. Being a judge was a humbling and challenging role, which I was very honored and fortunate to perform.

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