The Marathon County court mediation program meant to reduce the number of court cases appearing before judges started in 2018 appears to be working.
Attorney Randy Westgate, who helped found the program, told Marathon County’s public safety committee that in 2022 the program prevented 80% of its cases from appearing before a judge. That saves the county time and money in court costs. And it allows judges and other court staff to focus on higher level court cases.
City Pages first reported on the story in 2018 of Westgate and Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Greg Strasser starting the program. The mediation program employs volunteers who undergo training and help find resolutions between parties before they get to court. That includes small claims cases, evictions, medical debt and other similar cases.
Benefits of Marathon County court mediation
Mediators can often help landlords reach a payment agreement with tenants to avoid evictions. They can also help parties come to a settlement without needing to go to court. And, many of their clients don’t have attorneys, which can be cumbersome for the court system.
In 2022, Westgate says, 252 cases went through their mediator program, and 80% were resolve without the court system. Mediators helped avoid 75 evictions, which can help lead to homelessness and are also costly for landlords.
Strasser says the court system has come to rely on the mediator program so much that cases will be booked with the idea that many of those mediator cases will be removed. Westgate can tell the judge they were resolved. They’ve never once been overbooked because of it, Strasser says.
See the original 2018 story: Mediating legal relief