Keeping it Civil! Read our op ed…

Greater Civil Discourse Benefits All Parties

Imagine that you are fighting with your next-door neighbor over his dog that just loves to bury things in your yard. Your neighbor just doesn’t seem to care, but his dog is ruining your yard. Even worse, your neighbor refuses to discuss the matter with you or take any action to prevent his dog’s bad behavior. Sure, you could privately seethe, plot ways to sabotage your neighbor’s yard, or threaten to sue him. But what can you do to resolve this conflict without resorting to a stressful and costly law suit?

In the above scenario, and in many other disputes, mediation may be a great option to consider. Rather than continuing or escalating tensions and conflicts (which may be the unfortunate result of a law suit against your neighbor) mediation is a process that helps parties in conflict to communicate with one another, to understand the opposing party’s concerns, and to identify and consider possible solutions. A mediator, who is a trained, neutral party, will assist the parties in reaching a mutually agreeable solution and will help them put the agreement into a written form.

Because a mediator has no decision-making authority, the mediator’s role is to help the parties understand each other so that the parties themselves reach a solution that works for their unique situation. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator does not decide what is right or wrong or make suggestions about ways to resolve a problem. The resulting benefit is that the outcome is driven by the creativity and desires of the parties themselves, rather than imposed upon them by an outside authority. Human nature tells us it is easier to abide by an agreement that we had a hand in crafting versus an arrangement in which we had little or no say.

While some citizens are undoubtedly familiar with mandatory mediation programs associated with our courts, fewer people may be aware that voluntary mediation services are not only readily available, but highly successful and affordable. Community Justice and Mediation Center (CJAM), a local non-profit founded in 1996, provides cost-effective community mediation through its skilled team of volunteer staff and mediators. CJAM’s mission is to promote a civil and just community, and restorative justice.

This year, as part of bringing awareness to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) “Mediation Week,” October 14-20, CJAM has partnered with the Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA) to bring professional growth opportunities to attorney-mediators and to expand our community’s awareness of mediation as a conflict resolution option. MCBA, a non-profit organization for legal professionals, not only provides its members with professional growth opportunities, but also supports organizations that provide citizens with greater access to justice.

Monroe County is fortunate to have both volunteer community mediation and professional attorneys to mediate conflicts. Many MCBA member-attorneys also serve as professional mediators, helping parties to resolve their disputes. This role is in line with the professional charge that attorneys have been given by the ABA to take steps to promote greater civil discourse. Further, as attorneys and judges, MCBA members are well acquainted with disputes that would have been more efficiently and satisfactorily resolved through voluntary mediation.

In our current climate of discord, it is important to remember that resources to promote civil discourse and dispute resolution are available, if only we take the time to look. CJAM’s resources provide an excellent opportunity for community’s citizens to resolve many types of disputes in a civil manner without resorting to the legal system.

To learn more about the services that CJAM can offer, visit For information about finding an attorney-mediator, visit the directory on the MCBA website at

This post was written by J.L. Siefers, attorney at Jones, McGlasson & Arter, P.C. and CJAM board member, and Erin Martoglio, attorney at Freitag & Martoglio, LLC and President of the Monroe County Bar Association.


A Big Thanks to Nick’s & Natalie’s Dine & Donate for CJAM!

Thanks to Nick’s and veteran waitress Natalie Cabanaw, and all our CJAM supporters!  The Dine and Donate raised $408 thatincluded $263 in donated tips!  Wow – we are blessed to live in a community that displays such strong civic pride and generosity!  Thanks to Natalie, Susan, Raggs and the staff at Nick’s for supporting all the important work that non-profits are doing each and every day.

About Natalie Cabanaw:  For the past 25 years, Natalie has been serving patrons at Nick’s and for the last 15 of those years, she has been supporting local non-profits and causes by donating her tips on one Thursday evening each month!   Driven by a deep seated value of giving back to our community, Natalie started her grass-roots fundraising  and community outreach after the disappearance of IU freshman, Jill Behrman. The Behrman family were regulars at the Bloomington local pub and Natalie was eager to help in any way she could and Nick’s Third Thursdays was born.  Due to the overwhelming community support of these evenings, Nick’s ownership soon followed suit by also donating 20% of all food and beverage tabs.

Please  share our Facebook Event   You don’t  need to present a flyer, but to help us spread the word, you can also can download one here.

Photo: Nick’s Manager, Cameron Flannigan (left)  and Natalie Cabanaw (right)

Monroe County Bar Association & CJAM Partner

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER! As part of the ABA's Mediation Week October 14 - 20, the Community Justice & Mediation Center and the Monroe County Bar Association present Ethics for Advocates and Mediators with Stephen L. Shields, BA, JD, LLM.  Steve, a partner in the Memphis law firm of Jackson, Shield, Yeiser & Holt, a Civil Mediator, as well as Rule 31 General Civil Mediation Trainer.  A Bloomington native and frequent hometown visitor, Steve is looking forward to presenting an engaging and lively workshop that has been approved for 1.0 Ethics or General CLE/Ethics CME.  The cost is $30, with all proceeds going to CJAM!  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. 

When: Monday, October 15, 2018, 4:00-5:30 PM

Location: Bloomington Transit Center, 301 S. Walnut St, Bloomington, IN

Click here for event flyer.


STEVE SHIELDS, JD, LLM is the founding member of Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute and a Partner in the Memphis law firm of Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt. He is a Tennessee Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Rule 31 General Civil Mediator as well as Rule 31 General Civil Mediation Trainer. Mr. Shields was recently appointed for a three-year term as a Tennessee Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission Commissioner. He is a Listed Mediator in the Mediator Profile Directory of the United States District Court Western District of Tennessee. Mr. Shields is a frequent speaker and author regarding alternative dispute resolution topics. He is also a founding member as well as the Chair of the Mid-South Community Justice and Mediation Center. He is the current Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Executive Council and he is the current Past-President of the Tennessee Association of Professional Mediators. He is an adjunct professor at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis where he is the Director of the Mediation Clinic. In 2015, Mr. Shields was chosen as the recipient of the prestigious Grayfred Gray Public Service In Mediation award. He has been listed in Best Lawyers since 1991.

A BIG THANKS! Bucceto’s Dine & Donate for CJAM

Thanks Bucceto’s!  We couldn’t have asked for more.  You friendly staff provided great food, great service, and needed support. We appreciate your investment in helping to make our community more caring, civil, and just.

Yes you heard right…it’s Pizza & Pasta with Personality & Purpose on Wednesday August 29 at Bucceto’s!  Take a night off from cooking and enjoy award winning pizza, pasta and a whole lot more.  Bucceto’s is donating 20% of the total you spend between 4 pm and close at both Bloomington locations.  Their generosity extends to dinning-in, carryout, and even delivery!  Just mention CJAM’s name when you are ordering, or print or download the flyer on your phone. Click here for the flyer.   

Download Bucceto’s carryout-menu here!