What is a Community Dispute Resolution Committee?
The Community Dispute Resolution Committee (CDRC) provides a means in which minor disputes at the municipal level can be resolved without having to go to Court. Disputing parties appear before a team of trained mediators who work with the parties to develop a solution to the problem
What types of Cases Are Referred to a CDRC?
The types of disputes that could be referred to a CDRC include:
- neighborhood disputes
- business/consumer complaints
- simple harassment
- dog complaints
- noise complaints
- simple trespass
- bad checks
- landlord/tenant disputes
- destruction and simple theft
Often these types of disputes are more effectively resolved through mediation rather than through a formal court proceeding.
How Does the CDRC Work?
Cases are referred to the CDRC by the Municipal Court Judge or Court Administrator. Parties are notified by mail to appear before the Committee.
During the mediation session, each party is given the opportunity to present his/her side of the case. After the parties have presented their case, the panel attempts to encourage discussion between the two parties and guide them towards a mutually agreeable solution. CDRC's are "solution-oriented" and are not preoccupied with deciding facts, guilt, or innocence. The disputing parties are encouraged to frame a resolution they can both live with, and in doing so, become more likely to honor it.
If an agreement is reached, it will be put in writing by the Committee and signed by both parties.
What If We Do Not Reach an Agreement?
If the parties fail to reach an agreement, the case may be returned to the court for further proceedings. If a formal complaint has not yet been filed, either party may do so with the Court Administrator.
Who Makes Up the CDRC?
Citizens from the community volunteer to serve on the Committee. Committee members are approved by the Assignment Judge of the Superior Court and are trained in mediation techniques. The Committee forms a mediation team who works with the disputing parties to formulate a mutually agreeable solution. The mediators do not take sides or make judgements about "right" and "wrong". Rather, they help disputing parties discuss their needs and differences, and find areas of agreement.
What Are the Advantages of Community Dispute Resolution Committees?
- CDRC's provide a flexible and open forum that enables citizens to resolve minor problems without legal expenses and without the possibility of a conviction record.
- Each party is given the opportunity to tell his/her side of the story in an atmosphere that is less formal than a court proceeding.
- The mediation session is private and confidential. This helps preserve the goodwill and positive working relationships.
- CDRC's encourage local citizens to become involved in the justice system thereby increasing their awareness and support.
For more information, contact the Municipal Court Administrator, Bonnie Messina at (973) 729-3501, or the Superior Court of New Jersey, Municipal Division at 201-285-6408