The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan launched a two-year pilot program to help pro se litigants resolve their cases quickly and effectively. The program is called the Early Mediation Program for Pro Se Prisoner Civil Rights Cases, and it will give prisoners the opportunity to speak with a trained mediator and the defendants in an informal environment before jumping into costly litigation battles.
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts was instrumental in the implementation of the program, and modeled it after an existing program in Nevada. She said, “pro se litigants are outnumbered and outgunned in the legal system,” and “we think many of these cases can be resolved if we can get everybody in the same room to come to a resolution satisfactory to everyone.” The program will be conducted with the help of more than 40 Michigan mediators who will serve without compensation. In 2017 prisoners filed 248 civil cases, and 97 percent represented themselves; the majority of the cases were decided on the pleadings and disposed of without trial.
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