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Press Releases

Thursday, May 3, 2012

SU Earns $750,000 Maryland Judiciary Grant to Analyze Mediation

Maryland JudiciarySALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University and its Center for Conflict Resolution have received a $750,000 grant from the Maryland Judiciary, the state’s judicial system, to analyze the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

“The State of Maryland is a leader in the nation for the use of mediation in its court system,” said Dr. Clifton Griffin, SU’s dean of graduate studies and research. “Maryland also is the first state to comprehensively review such processes. SU is excited to spearhead the project.”

Jurisdictions statewide are using mediation and ADR programs as other options to litigation in both civil and misdemeanor criminal cases. The University is working in partnership with Community Mediation Maryland (CMM) and Renbar Consulting, LLC, to assess these practices.

Initiated by the Judiciary, the two-part study includes an analysis of the cost-benefits of ADR versus traditional litigation. It also will examine the efficiency and effectiveness of various types, styles and strategies of mediation.

“Litigation can be expensive and time consuming for all parties involved, and many court systems are clogged with cases that may have been more effectively resolved through mediation,” said Haleigh LaChance, research coordinator for SU’s Center. “The study will examine, dollar for dollar, how many cases are coming off the docket as a result of mediation, and what that means to citizens accessing the court system.”

The Judiciary hopes to shed practices that are not cost effective, and also expand approaches and systems that offer the highest benefits to court systems and citizens of Maryland. While the case for mediation is strong, the study will provide the additional research needed to justify the Judiciary’s continued investment in ADR. The Judiciary has been using ADR approaches for the past 12 years.

The research team is led by Drs. Brian Polkinghorn, executive director of SU’s Center; Patrick McDermott, faculty in SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business; Lorig Charkoudian, executive director of CMM; and Ruth Obar of Renbar. LaChance leads a team of four field researchers, including Emmett Ward, who earned an M.A. in Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution at SU.

They will observe over 1,100 court-related ADR sessions across the state over the next 18 months.

A follow-up study also will be conducted to examine factors such as recidivism, appeals and changing public perceptions of Maryland’s judicial system.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at

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