Judge J.D. Smith met with Brenau University meditation team members including Ellie Anglin, Suzette Meza and Sara Hubaishi during his visit to the Rotary Club of Gainesville, Monday, Nov. 3. Smith is a retired judge from the Georgia Court of Appeals who now works part time as a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS, a nationally-based dispute resolution firm.

Retired Appeals Court Judge J.D. Smith highlights Importance of International Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament at Brenau University Nov. 6-8

Nov 3, 2014
Brenau Staff

On the eve of the largest intercollegiate mediation tournament in the world, a Georgia trial and appellate court judge said that the alternate form of dispute resolution “can usually create better outcomes than trials” in resolving civil disputes.

Speaking to the Gainesville, Georgia, Rotary Club on Monday, Nov. 3,  former Georgia Appeals Court Judge J.D. Smith said that mediation and its cousin, arbitration, are both expanding as methods of choice for resolving civil disputes in the United States and abroad because they lead to quicker results at less expense to all parties than lengthy trials in traditional courtrooms.

“Mediation for me is satisfying because you get to hammer out some kind of shared solutions that both sides can live with,” Smith said. “You are getting to decisions and solutions that you are never going to achieve with a judge and a jury in a courtroom.”

The audience at the Rotary meeting included Dr. Kenneth Frank, who heads the Brenau University Conflict Resolution & Legal Studies Department and six student members of the Brenau team that will participate Nov. 6-8 in the 15th Annual International Intercollegiate Mediation Tournament on the Brenau campus. The tournament features more than 50 teams from colleges and universities across the country as well as universities from Canada, India and the United Kingdom.

The tournament is sanctioned by the International Academy of Dispute Resolution, the professional organization for one of the fastest-growing segments of the legal profession. The Brenau-based event marks only the second time the national intercollegiate competition has occurred outside of Chicago or Des Moines, Iowa, where the intercollegiate mediation competition originated. The previous time was in 2012, also on the Brenau.

Judge Smith served for 21 years as a judge on Georgia’s second-highest court. Previously he had been chief judge of the Superior Courts of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, which includes Dawson and Hall counties. However, since his retirement in 2011, he has largely avoided courtrooms – working part time as an arbitrator and mediator with the Atlanta office of JAMS, a nationally-based dispute resolution firm. According to Brenau’s Ken Frank, “Judge Smith has always been very supportive” of the Brenau alternate dispute resolution program and has served as both a judge and instructor in previous student completions.

During the tournament, in addition to competition, the participants will have training in mediation and advocacy skills and will compete in a tournament evaluated by mediation and legal professionals like Judge Smith.

Brenau teams usually acquit themselves quite well at such gatherings. A Brenau team, for example, placed third in last year’s national competition. Brenau mediators who participated in the fourth annual Conflict Resolution Symposium at Georgia State University on Friday, Oct. 24, brought home a first place team trophy from the competition and Staricka Cummings from Riverdale, Georgia, collected the individual best mediator award.

Cummings was on hand for Judge Smith’s presentation on Monday along with teammates Ellie Anglin, Clermont, Georgia; Sara Hubaishi, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Suzette Meza, El Paso, Texas; Lindsay Embrick, Commerce, Georgia, Autumn Lester, Banks County, Georgia, and Sarah McAndrews, Marietta, Georgia.

Frank developed the university’s Conflict Resolution & Legal Studies major 15 years ago, making Brenau at the time the only institution in Georgia – and one of just a few in the country – to offer an undergraduate degree in the subject.

For more info about the international tournament, call (770) 534-6297 or email kfrank@brenau.edu.