SB 444 - This act creates standards for the use of mediation to resolve disputes. These standards apply to all mediation conducted in disputes for which mediation is authorized by statute, regulation, or by contract.
The act allows participants to select their own mediator, or apply to a court for appointment of a qualified mediator. If the court appoints a mediator, they must consider any potential bias or conflicts of interest the mediator might have. Additionally, state agencies that establish mediation programs must adopt rules to assure the impartiality of mediators.
The act also sets forth the duties of the mediator and requires that no mediator provide subsequent representation, counseling, or treatment to a party to the mediation, unless it is distinct from the issues raised in mediation.
Finally, communications in mediation proceedings shall be confidential and are not admissible as evidence in court. No mediator may be subpoenaed or compelled to disclose information disclosed in the process of setting up or conducting the mediation. However, the act does not prohibit mediators who are mandated by state law from reporting child or elder abuse, and allows mediators to be called to testify in an action to enforce a written settlement agreement for the limited purpose of describing the events that followed the mediation.