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Mediator and Ad Litem Appointments

Judge Randy Wilson

157th District Court

Information Regarding Mediator and Ad Litem Appointments

In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed a new law relating to the selection of mediators, attorneys ad litem, guardians ad litem.  See Tex. Gov’t Code § 37.001 et seq.

Mediators

  Section 37.004(b) of the Texas Government Code states as follows: 

In each case in which the appointment of a mediator is necessary because the parties to the case are unable to agree on a mediator, a court using a rotation system shall appoint the person whose name appears first on the mediator list maintained by the court as required under § 37.003.

The new law does not change the previous rule that a court may appoint those mediators on whom the parties agree. Tex. Gov’t Code § 37.004(c).  Moreover, on a finding of good cause, a court may appoint a qualified person included on the applicable list who is not next on the list and may appoint someone whose name does not appear on the list on a complex matter. Id. at § 37.004(d). 

In the vast majority of cases, counsel work out the details of mediation without involving the court.  Occasionally, the parties are unable to agree on whether to attend mediation and ask for the court’s involvement.  In those cases where mediation is ordered, the lawyers generally agree on a mediator.  In those rare cases where the parties are not able to agree, the court will appoint a mediator.  In deciding who may be a suitable mediator, counsel may refer to those who have registered with the court, or they may choose to employ the services of the Dispute Resolution Center.

The list below consists of all persons who have indicated a desire to be included on this court’s list of mediators.  There is no criteria for inclusion on this list.  Neither the Court nor anyone on behalf of the Court has reviewed the qualifications or experience of those included on the list and inclusion on the list is neither an endorsement nor recommendation.  Further, mediators’ fees vary and are not set by the Court, so you should contact the particular mediator to discuss their mediation fees prior to selecting the mediator.  If you would like to be included on this list, please let the Court know.

List of Mediators

Barker, Georgia

Block, Elaine

Blum, Henry J.

Bristow, Daryl

Cheng, Kathy

Clarke, Peter J.

Davidson, Hon. Mark

Downey, Hon. Dan

Duckers, Sarah A.

Fjeldal, Timothy A.

Fry, Terry

Hoerster, Pam

Hoover, Jerry

Huston, Nancy

Johnson, Charles E.

Kennedy, Hon. Katie

Link, Hon. Scott

McAlpine, Melissa Back

Odam, John

Oliver-Parrott, Hon. Alice

Proctor, Tommy

Ray, Hon. Elizabeth

Rider, Roger

Soussan, Hon. Susan

Stone, Hon. Kathleen

Taylor, Amy Dunn

West, Hon. David

Wilson, Doug

Zimmerman, Hon. Alvin

 

Attorneys Ad Litem

 

The 157th District Court follows the Protocol for Appointment of Attorneys Ad Litem adopted by the Board of Civil Judges in August 2015.  See  Protocol for Appointment of Attorneys Ad Litem

 

 

Guardians Ad Litem

 

Recently enacted Gov’t. Code § 37.004 provides that the Court must appoint guardians ad litem from the Court’s list in order, except when: (a) the parties agree (subject to court approval) to the appointment of an ad litem whose name is not next on the list or is not on the list; (b) the court finds good cause to appoint a person whose name is not next on the list or is not on the list because the person appointed: (i) has specialized training, skills, experience or other qualities relevant to the subject matter of the case; (ii) has “relevant prior involvement with the parties or case”; or (iii) “is in a relevant geographic location”.

 

Tex. R. Civ. P. 173 provides for the appointment of a guardian ad litem when a minor or non compos mentis is a party to a suit, and is represented by a next friend or a guardian who appears to the court to have an interest adverse to the minor. The trial court can only appoint a guardian ad litem where there is a conflict of interest between the minor and the next friend. The determination of the existence of a conflict of interest requires the exercise of judicial discretion.

 

A guardian ad litem should not be expected to do work that is typically done by the attorney for the next friend.  Rather, the guardian ad litem is charged with acting as the advocate for the “client”, which may require the ad litem to assume an adversary stance vis-à-vis the next friend.  It is therefore crucial that a guardian ad litem be suited by training and experience that is appropriate to each case.  The Court takes into account the special circumstances present in each case when making appointments; it is therefore expected that serial appointments from the list required by Gov’t Code Sec. 37.004 may not be routine.

 

A guardian ad litem bears the same fiduciary responsibility to the minor or non compos mentis client as to any other client, and may face liability in the event of professional negligence. 

 

Those wishing to be included in the Court’s list must submit a written request with a complete resume that details the nature of the applicant’s experience as a civil trial practitioner.  Special capabilities, such as fluency in languages other than English, financial background, and the like, should also be listed.  Applicants must also affirm that professional liability coverage is in effect and will remain current. Inclusion on the list does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the Court and no attorney so listed may state or imply that they have been approved, recommended or endorsed by the 157th District Court for any reason or purpose.

 

List of Guardians Ad Litem:

 

Ashby, Lesly

Bradshaw-Hull, Christopher

Calnan, Cornelius J.

Davila, Mario

Duckers, Sarah A.

Elizalde, Thelma

Hatchett, Michael

Kretzer, Seth

Link, Hon. Scott


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