Settlement negotiations/judicial settlement conferences in civil cases

March 2008
By Hon. John A. Wittmayer, Multnomah County Circuit Court

There has been much discussion lately among the judges in Multnomah County about whether they should continue to conduct judicial settlement conferences in civil cases. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue. Judge LaMar continues to do this on a full-time basis, as she has done for a number of years. Other judges also make time available to the bar for this service. Some judges who have conducted these conferences in the past have stopped doing so.

But much has changed over the years. The February issue of the Multnomah Lawyer advertises the names of 38 lawyers and retired judges who are offer these services. We have all seen the tremendous increase in the availability of these services the past 15 or so years. And over the years we have noticed a shift in the way lawyers approach settlement negotiations: lawyers frequently do not talk to each other about settlements outside of a mediation or a judicial settlement conference.