Nevada Mediation Program Hearing Addresses Program’s Efficacy
By Cheryl Blomstrom, Blomstrom Consulting, UTA Nevada Lobbyist
The United Trustees Association recently participated in the hearing before the Nevada Supreme Court to consider revised regulations for the Foreclosure Mediation process in Nevada. There were about 25 people in Las Vegas (two speakers from their one current mediator and Barbara Buckley, former Speaker of the Assembly and the author of the mediation program) and about 30 people in Carson City with 11 speakers.
The Chief Justice Michael Cherry opened the hearing, gave a short introduction and turned the meeting over to Justice Michael Gibbons who has been tasked with the administration of the program. He asked that only new comments be given orally and none repetitive of those submitted in writing. UTA submitted substantial written comments and so observed the hearing only.
UTA’s comments were echoed almost in total by the Credit Union Association. The comments were evenly split between the lender/trustee perspective and the borrower/plaintiff’s bar perspective.
Issues commented on included inappropriate use of the mediation program with no intention to participate fairly, meaningful solutions to the real problems with the program, time periods to conclude and to exchange documents, mediator training, time periods for document retention by mediators, and the decision making timeframe.
Barbara Buckley, former Assembly Speaker, current managing attorney at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada noted that she sits as a member of the advisory committee and praised the work of that group. As to the document exchange, she noted that information exchanged prior to the actual mediation was not controversial. She said the short sale provisions were more contentious but that she had invited the lender representatives to submit their contrary comments to the Court. Speaker Buckley is still very much involved in this program and any changes will require both her understanding and input.
Under questioning by Justice Kris Pickering, Speaker Buckley opined that the committee did not intend that the exchange of documents create any more argument between borrower and lender than currently exists. Justice Pickering noted she is concerned that the document exchange becomes more like litigation, with targeted and timed document releases and requests. This is essentially the argument made by UTA in its comments with respect to this topic.
During the committee’s work, Ms. Buckley indicated they discussed creating a template for what lenders need with regard to documents. She said that there are about ten items that every lender wants and one or two unique items per lender. She opined that standardization would be desirable. She also noted the timeliness of submissions. At the very end of her presentation, Buckley mentioned a confidential proposal from both sides. She didn’t go into any detail. This is an area that bears watching during session.