The Use of Jury Instructions in Mediation
By Ed Sikorski
Paul McMahon, 2012 Chair of the Martin County Bar Association’s Trial Lawyers Committee invited Marjorie Gadarian- Graham, a noted contributor to Florida jury instruction jurisprudence and distinguished appellate counsel, to address the Committee on the early use if jury instructions to prepare pleadings and guide the discovery process at its February 2012 meeting.
Ms. Graham’s presentation sparked the idea that jury instructions would also be helpful to prepare for and conduct mediations.
Part of the mediation process is to bring a reality check to the participants and manage the expectations of the parties.
Jury instructions are the reality check on the elements of the cause of action. They also provide guidance on the burden of proof and credibility of witnesses. They can therefore be very useful in adjusting the expectations of the parties. The language of the jury instruction provides an objective authoritative criterion to refocus and manage perspectives of the parties that is a necessary ingredient to a successful mediation.