WHEREAS, one of the goals of the Business Litigation Committee of the Business Law Section ("Committee") has been to strengthen the cooperative relationship between the bar and bench, including the judges of the Commerce Case Management Program ("Commerce Program") of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County ("Court");WHEREAS, the Committee has assisted in the development of Commerce Program rules and procedures since the inception of that program; WHEREAS, by Administrative Docket 02 of 2003, the Court set forth certain procedures for the utilization of private lawyers as Commerce Program Judges Pro Tempore; WHEREAS, Commerce Program Judges Pro Tempore have served without compensation as settlement masters and mediators to assist the Court in resolving cases prior to trial; WHEREAS, the Committee established a Judge Pro Tempore Subcommittee ("JPT Subcommittee") to maximize the effectiveness of Judges Pro Tempore in the Commerce Program; WHEREAS, in consultation with the Court, it became apparent that both the Court and the JPT Subcommittee favor the compensation of Judges Pro Tempore in those instances where such service lasts longer than 3 hours per case; WHEREAS, in keeping with the consensual nature of mediation, it is believed that fixing an hourly rate of compensation, with the consent of participating parties, will encourage distinguished members of the bar to serve as mediators in lengthier mediations without imposing an undue burden on litigants, and will encourage the Court to utilize their services without concern that doing so would unduly burden the mediators; WHEREAS, it is further believed that fixing an hourly rate of compensation, with the consent of participating parties, will free up the time of Commerce Program judges, lead to the favorable resolution of disputes prior to trial, and bring about a further reduction in docket congestion and a corresponding reduction in the cost of litigation; WHEREAS, such compensation is consistent with the successful practice of several other jurisdictions which engage private attorneys as mediators, and WHEREAS, in consultation with the Court it likewise became apparent that standard and objective criteria were necessary for the selection of Judges Pro Tempore. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Chancellor or his designee, who may include the Chair of the Committee, is authorized to provide a copy of the draft attached hereto, along with this Resolution, to the Court by its Administrative Judge and/or Supervising Civil Judge. AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that, notwithstanding the compensation available under the proposed revisions to the Administrative Order, the Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors encourages Judges Pro Tempore to consider declining such compensation or consider donating same to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation or other nonprofit legal services organization. AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Business Litigation Committee of the Business Law Section and its JPT Subcommittee may continue discussions with the Court regarding language changes that the Court may consider in the process of amending its Administrative Order. *PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: May 29, 2008*
IN RE: COMMERCE CASE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
Commerce Program Judges Pro Tempore shall serve without charge for up to three hours for each case, exclusive of preparation time before a settlement conference or initial mediation session. After the Judge Pro Tempore has devoted three hours of service free of charge to the assigned case, and upon agreement of the participating parties to continue the mediation or settlement conference beyond those three hours, the Judge Pro Tempore shall be compensated at the rate of $300 per hour (or at such higher rate as the Administrative Judge or designee shall set hereafter) for further work on the case. Unless otherwise agreed to by the participating parties, or upon further order of the Court, the obligation to compensate the Judge Pro Tempore shall be borne equally among the parties. Judges Pro Tempore shall promptly invoice the parties for services and reasonable expenses for which they are entitled to be compensated.
Persons may be added to or removed from the panel as the Administrative Judge or designee may determine consistent with the qualifications above. The Court may order a Commerce Program case to be assigned for Settlement Conference to a Commerce Program Judge Pro Tempore who shall, on a date certain, hold a Settlement Conference which must be attended by trial counsel representing the parties, as well as any unrepresented parties. Counsel and unrepresented parties shall provide to the Commerce Program Judge Pro Tempore prior to the Settlement Conference a fully completed Settlement Memorandum, in a form to be established by the Commerce Program Judges. The Commerce Program Judge Pro Tempore on such a referral is not authorized to rule on any motions, but will attempt to facilitate a settlement between the parties.2. Mediation. a. Referral to Mediation and Selection of Mediator. Commerce Program cases may be referred to nonbinding mediation at the discretion of the Commerce Program Judge, who may make such referrals at the time of the Case Management Conference, at a Pretrial Conference referenced above, or at any other time. Where appropriate and whether or not mediation is pursued at an early stage of the litigation, the Commerce Program Judge has the discretion to refer cases to nonbinding mediation at a later stage of the proceedings. The Court may permit the parties to choose the mediator from among the panel of Commerce Program Judges Pro Tempore, or agree to pay for a mediator not on the panel. The order of reference to mediation shall not stay or delay any scheduling dates, unless the Court so orders.