Judge Rick Brissenden had an idea.
“The idea was mine that I came up with because we’re the justice court for all of Lane County but we’re situated out on the coast so I faced the issue of how to serve the whole county given the fact that we’re on the western edge,” he said.
His solution? A mediation program in each community around the county that would be run by trained interns in spaces donated by cities like Cottage Grove.
Lane County residents would be able to file cases remotely by utilizing an online form or email address and mediation staff would visit the communities on a monthly schedule. If the parties failed to come to an agreement and a hearing had to be held, Brissenden would travel to the community to oversee the proceedings.
“We want to determine the level of interest in those areas first,” Brissenden said.
Interns Enekole Atabo and Sarah Osborn visited the Cottage Grove City Council last month to inform the council of the possible program and submitted a letter detailing the plans to move forward.
“Mediation is the process of bringing two disputing parties in front of a neutral third party who helps them facilitate a resolution,” the letter read. “The process is transformative for the parties, as there is no winner or loser but only an aim to achieve a mutual agreement.”
Possible cases for mediation would include landlord-tenant disputes or neighbor-to-neighbor disputes.
“At this stage, we’re doing a needs assessment,” Brissenden said. “We’re in the early stages.”