Evaluation of an alternative dispute resolution program in a domestic small claims court
As many Americans seek to resolve disputes in a courthouse, a movement has grown to formalize and institutionalize conflict resolution procedures that facilitate voluntary agreement between the parties. These formalized procedures, known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), are quickly becoming commonplace in the courthouse landscape. In one small claims court in one district in Maryland, there is an innovative ADR program which is growing faster than its administrators had contemplated. This thesis presents an evaluation of that program through interviews with state and local stakeholders and participants, and through an analysis of data collected in 2003 by the administrators. The results provide a comprehensive picture of where this program stands today and its participants' knowledge-base about how it works. The program's growth is a testament to the fact that many people are choosing an alternative to litigation in order to resolve their dispute.