WCU’s Campus Mediation Society held an open house at the Jackson County Justice Center on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
The meeting was free and open to the public with the goal of teaching people what mediation is and how it works in their community.
Mediation is the voluntary process of settling a dispute with the help of a mediator. The mediator does not suggest solutions but prompts both parties with questions in hopes that the disputants come up with a win-win solution themselves.
Mediation allows people to resolve issues without going to court or involving the police. It is a totally confidential process and a safe environment where both sides get to voice their opinions much more than they would in a courtroom setting.
John Barrett, a criminal defense private practice lawyer, explained that mediation is good for resolving problems that don’t involve an immoral crime.
“If we are dealing with something like trespassing, that to me isn’t an immoral crime and can be dealt with in mediation,” said Barrett. “Something like armed robbery is immoral. Everyone knows stealing is wrong.”
Assistant District Attorney Reid Taylor attended the open house. He explained his experience with the benefits of mediation.
“Our NC budget is shrinking and because of that our office has downsized,” Taylor said. “With more and more people moving to the area, there is more crime.”
“Mediation solves cases and reduces my workload, so I can work on other cases that need attention,” said Taylor.
Tuesday’s meeting was run by Jane Zanglein, Bill Mauldin, and Loraine Johnson.
Jane Zanglein is the board president of Mountian Mediation and is involved in the North Carolina Agricultural Mediation Program. She is also the head of WCU’s Campus Mediation Program.
Bill Mauldin is a professional mediator who works in superior court. Certain cases must be mediated before the court will take them and Mauldin deals with those cases.
Loraine Johnson is the director of Mountain Mediation and also heads their mediation volunteer training program.
The trio identified many different kinds of mediation, including community mediation, Medicaid mediation, divorce/separation/family mediation, and mediation done in tribal court.
Related story: Mediation awareness week coming to Jackson County