Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Mediation Program for Divorce May Win Court Backing

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Mediation Program for Divorce May Win Court Backing

Article excerpt

Getting a divorce doesn't have to be a battle. At least that has been the experience of over 250 couples in Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian counties who have participated in a new program aimed at using mediation to resolve divorce and other family disputes.

In fact, the Oklahoma Supreme Court is currently considering a court rule that would encourage judges throughout the state to refer cases to mediation.

Currently, Oklahoma County has procedural rule in place, and mediation advocates hope to spread the trend statewide.

Jim Stovall, director of Training with the Mediation Institute in Oklahoma City, says mediation is a successful alternative to filing claims in court.

"Four out of five of the disputes we hear at the Institute are resolved through mediation," he said.

While Stovall believes mediation is not a substitute for legal advice, he feels it is a faster, cheaper way to solve problems.

Complaint against Lackey

Former superintendent of the Manitou Juvenile Center David F. Kamphaus has filed a complaint in federal court in Oklahoma City against Paul K. Lackey, Jr., the executive director of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs alleging violations of his 1st and 14th Amendment rights.

Kamphaus claims he was discharged in retaliation for a series of concerns he voiced to state legislators, some of which were made to State Rep. Loyd Benson, D-Frederick, about the privatization of the Manitou facility.

The former superintendent alleges he was exercising his right to speak about matters of public concern and that his firing deprived him of a state-created property right of continued employment.

Kamphaus contends that after speaking with Benson, the state representative decided not to implement the plan of privatization and that Kamphaus was discharged because of Benson's rejection of the plan.

Dawn Byram, director of media and community relations for the Office of Juvenile Affairs' said Kamphaus' claims were proven unfounded in a series of hearings through the Merit Protection Commission.

"Kamphaus' claim is basically a whistle blower's claim. The last hearing was on Aug. 1 and the board found for us," said Byram.

Kamphaus' attorney Steven Novick of Tulsa said he also plans to file in state court for defendants' violation of the Oklahoma Personnel Act which prohibits a state agency from disciplining employees when they discuss agency operations.

According to Novick, the reason stated for dismissing Kamphaus was because he was playing a computer game on the job.

Novick said Kamphaus has a property interest in continued employment with the Office of Juvenile Affairs and was denied due process when he was let go without a showing of good cause.

Kamphaus seeks injunctive relief, lost wages, back pay, priority placement and retroactive seniority.

Participation limits

The extent to which a child advocate may participate in trials for sexual abuse of a minor child was limited by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Oklahoma City last week.

In Cooper v. State of Oklahoma, No. F-95-0631, Judge Reta Struhbar determined the child advocate had exceeded its role by participating in pre-trial hearings and motions, voir dire and examination of witnesses.

This involvement, according to the opinion, resulted in a "two against one" situation for the defendant and essentially made the advocate a special prosecutor.

The court noted that the role of the advocate is to act in the best interest of the child, but it may not take on an adversarial role against the accused. …

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