Big difference Dear Real Change,
I'm a mediator in the King County Courts, and I saw the "Ask a Lawyer" column about Small Claims Court in your July 4 issue. Contrary to what Mr. de Bakker says, mediators do NOT make decisions for the parties. The process he describes is arbitration, not mediation.
Mediators are neutral third parties who are trained to help people work through conflicts and come to a resolution themselves. We don't take sides and we don't issue judgments, binding or otherwise. Some of us are attorneys and some of us aren't, and all of us want to help people make their own best decisions in times of dispute.
You don't have to wait to go to court to try mediation. Mediation services are available to anyone who lives or works in King County from the King County Dispute Resolution Center (DRC). Most of their services are free. For others there is a small fee. The number for the DRC is 206-443-9603.
Louise Penberthy Seattle