Conflict mediators Bob Helm of Stillwater and Terry Simonson of
Tulsa say a new state law providing financing for dispute resolution
centers will prove an excellent option to the traditional lawsuit.
A psychology professor at Oklahoma State University, Helm heads
Dispute Services, a project for services and research in dispute
Simonson heads Tulsa's Citizen Complaint Centers, sponsored by the
American Bar Association. He was instrumental in getting the Dispute
Resolution Centers bill passed by the state legislature.
Both men recently were reappointed to one-year terms on the state
dispute resolution advisory board by Charles Ferrill Jr.,
administrator of the state courts of Oklahoma.
The new law, which takes effect Nov. 1, provides that dispute
resolution centers be financed by $2 added to fees charged for filing
civil cases in Oklahoma district courts.
"Dispute resolution helps people consider all interests in
resolving disputes," Helm said. "It's an alternative to a lawsuit.
It speeds up justice and makes justice more widely available."
Simonson added: "I don't know that justice needs speed as much as
conflicts need paths of resolution to choose from."
Those paths, in addition to dispute resolution, include mediation,
ombudsmen and arbitration. Although the state dispute resolution
advisory board has no budget, it will advise Ferrill on spending the
"Ferrill will make grants based on application from cities or
counties that would like to establish a dispute resolution center,"
Helm said he foresees the first applications for grants as coming
from existing programs and there are but a handful of those.
"We'll have to have state credentials to operate a dispute
resolution center, but mediator licensing is in the future, if at
all," Helm said. Credentialing would include workshop training in
"People such as psychologists, social workers, counselors and
attorneys will be preferred in sensitive cases as prospective
mediators," Helm added.
While the majority of cases dispute resolution centers would cover
consist of barking dogs, poor car repairs and other related
consumer-merchant squabbles, Simonson said the centers could handle
cases involving conflicts between governments.
"I think mediation would work in conflicts between governments
where there is an impasse over allocating money from the state back
to a locality.
"A mediator could help to establish an agenda and a plan so that
both feel they are still true to their positions without being
adversaries," he said. . .
- Oklahoma City attorney John Leo Wagner has been named United
States magistrate for the northern district of Oklahoma.
Wagner was a member of the Oklahoma City law firm of Kornfeld
Franklin & Phillips, specializing in the firm's litigation
department. He also has maintained a personal injury, railrod and
business litigation trial practice since 1980.
Wagner was selected by United States district judges H. Dale Cook,
James O. Ellison, Thomas R. Brett and David L. Russell. . .
- The Oklahoma City office of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation is planning an open house for Oct. 3. to be held at the
agency's recently redecorated offices at 50 Penn Place. . .
- Oklahoma City attorney Andrew Thurman will be a guest lecturer
at the Oklahoma University School of Public Health on Oct. …