CLIPBOARD : Avoiding Court

Researched by: APRIL D. JACKSON / Los Angeles Times

One way to avoid going to court is to enlist an impartial third party. Since 1985, the Dispute Resolution Center of Orange County has helped more than 3,300 residents stay out of court. The mediation service handles varied disputes at little or no cost to the parties.

Most conflicts handled by the center arise from fair-housing disputes. The dramatic drop in the caseload in 1987, see below, took place after the center elected not to renew a fair-housing mediation contract with Newport Beach.

Here's how the assistance trend looks:

Cases Cases % of Cases Year Heard Resolved Resolved 1989-90 643 424 66 1988-89 639 494 77 1987-88 858 661 77 1986-87 1,111 1,011 91 1985-86 1,059 752 71 FIVE-YEAR TOTAL 4,310 3,342 78

Source: Dispute Resolution Center of Orange County

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