Sunday, November 4, 2012
Peacemaker of the Year
The experiences that might be more applicable to the kinds of cases handled by those attending the conference involve disputes that arise between claimants to a fund. Feinberg noted that absolute dollars matter, but relative dollars seem to matter even more. It seems that disaster victims measure justice by comparing their proffered awards to those offered to others affected by the disaster. Feinberg also gave examples of some of the conflicts between family members or neighbors, such as a conflict between the fiance and the parents of one of the World Trade Center victims. In these situations, Feinberg sometimes relied on teams of mediators to resolve such disputes, and sometimes set up what can seem like arbitrary rules that determine who gets paid, and how much.
We had an interesting discussion at the SCMA dinner Friday night on the values of neutrality and fairness, or maybe neutrality vs. fairness, as experienced by mediators. The discussion was provoked by a talk by Roger Wolfson, a writer for Fairly Legal. Feinberg, sitting in the audience this time, had trouble understanding how a mediator could ever lose sleep over achieving a successful settlement. Many of the mediators in the audience, on the other hand, had at times experienced some discomfort when parties agree, under pressure of pending litigation, to resolutions that seem unfair to themselves, or to the mediator.
I may have more to say about this conference, but for now I just want to congratulate newly-inaugurated President Wendy Kramer and her team for a highly successful event!