The ADR Office trained 14 peace order roster mediators from all over Maryland to mediate the Montgomery County cases remotely. An apprentice process was also introduced by the office that included observations and post-session debriefs to ensure mediators were skilled and comfortable enough to mediate high-conflict disputes virtually. The program began on January 20, 2021, and within the year, 38 cases were referred, 28 of which participated in mediation and 19 reached an agreement for a 68% settlement rate. Another specialty docket pre-trial ADR program emerged from the pandemic to address illegal lock-out cases in the Pre-trial Mediation Housing Program for Baltimore City. The program was developed in a collaborative partnership between the District Court in Baltimore City, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore Community Mediation Center, and the District Court ADR Office. Since program inception in the first quarter of 2021, 38 cases have been referred into the program and in three of the four mediations conducted, landlords and tenants resolved the underlying issues surrounding the illegal lock-out. New processes and innovations had already begun to take place prior to 2021 and the ADR Committee capitalized on the opportunity to provide creative ways to provide alternative dispute resolution services. The extensive accessibility of video conferencing has the potential to transform court services.
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