Archive for February, 2009

News for 02.17.09

February 17, 2009

Huffington Post: Give Home Foreclosures the Same Treatment As Wall Street Bankers

Arianna Huffington says that not enough attention is given to the people currently in foreclosure. She also thinks Obama’s plan should include mandatory mediation.

“His plan should also include mandatory mediation between homeowners and lenders prior to any final foreclosures. A pilot program along these lines, the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, started in Philadelphia, has proven very successful. According to one account, the program has prevented or delayed foreclosures in 75 to 80 percent of the cases that have made it to mediation. Currently, many homeowners don’t even talk to their lenders until they have been foreclosed on — partly because the lenders often make it next to impossible to reach them. “
Full article [here]

International Arbitration Makes the Business World Go Faster
DUBAI – Quick and efficient dispute resolution is vital at a time when the global economy is facing challenges, Dr. Omar bin Sulaiman, Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) said on Monday.
Addressing a symposium on international arbitration, he said dispute resolution mechanisms had always been critical to the success and competitiveness of an economy. “But, quick and efficient dispute resolution is particularly important now, at a time when the global economy is facing challenges. To increase the adoption of arbitration globally as an alternate dispute resolution mechanism, we need to actively communicate the benefits that arbitration can bring to businessmen, commercial outfits, governments and customers.”

Full article [here]

Shine Launches Kit Aimed At Resolving Neighborhood Disputes
As someone who deals frequently with neighbor vs neighbor disputes, I look around to see what other groups and governments are doing to help people is these situations. Not surprisingly, the Australian State of Queensland is offering a new kit to help people solve their own problems- go figure! Their information sheet comes in nine languages too!
“A new kit aimed at resolving neighbourhood conflict was launched today by Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Kerry Shine. The kit is particularly timely with the Dispute Resolution Branch noticing an increase in demand for its services in the past few months following storms in Queensland’s south east and flooding in north Queensland.
“People living in areas affected by recent bad weather are under a lot of stress and this can be made worse if there are disagreements over the clean-up,” Mr Shine said. “This new kit and the Government’s specialist mediators offer a free service to help neighbours try to settle these disputes.”
Full article [here]
This [link] brings you to the page to download the kit.

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News for 02.16.08

February 16, 2009

Fair Playing field

The Nobles County Deputies Union and the County Officials have agreed to mediation to try and solve the issue of their contract. They have been working out of contract for 18+ months.

the question of a level playing field is raised when I read this, “And during each negotiation meeting, Clarke and his co-steward Nobles County Deputy T.J. Gertsema had to take time off work to attend the negotiations, while the commissioners earned a wage for attending the meetings.
“We’re donating out time, and they get paid to be there,” he commented.”

It is also not clear who the mediator is for the case, which is scheduled for February 24th, and if he or she is being paid. If it is a County official, neutrality or lack of could be raised as well.

Read the full article [here]

LA Divorce Mediators Offer Free Services

Kudos to Diana Mercer, Founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, for getting mentioned on MSNBC’s website.

They are offering free divorce mediation as well as fee based on a sliding scale:

“Free mediation services include up to 6 hours of [otherwise] billable time: 3 hours of mediation and 3 hours for a mediation resolution roadmap and report or deal memo.”

How about this tidbit:

“With the average Los Angeles divorce costing $100,000(5), Peace Talks’ average divorce is $8500.”

read the article [here]

Sense & Sensibility in India
VIJAY NAGASWAMI Vijay Nagaswami writes in interesting piece here on the general way Indians react (yes react, not respond) to situations. The question of tolerance, and mob type responses are questioned.

Some quotes to get you to read the opinion piece:

“We respond with irrational intolerance when we use rhetoric, whip up mob frenzy, burn effigies, attack stores selling Valentine Day cards, physically assault hapless young women who go to a pub or talk to young men and so on…”

and

“If irrationally intolerant protests are to be countered by more irrational intolerance, the only cause to be advanced would be that of tabloid journalism.”

Read it [here]

Conflict Resolution for India & Pakistan

“What better recipe can anyone prescribe for lasting peace in the subcontinent, i.e better than conflict-resolution especially the resolution of Kashmir conflict, as also demanded, of late, by President Asif Ali Zardari…

…By all standards of international relations and on the basis of all yardsticks of sovereignty, the Kashmir conflict’s resolution need not be viewed as a victory-defeat situation, whether for Pakistan or for India.”

Read all of it [here]

President Carter: Still on a Mission For Peace
Did you know the Carter Center opened back in ’81?
For more than three decades, former President Jimmy Carter has been trying to bring peace to the Middle East.
Disappointed that President Ronald Reagan showed no interest in dealing with the region’s constant conflict and that President George W. Bush “didn’t do anything” either, Carter has kept his dream alive since he left office in 1981 through the efforts of the conflict-resolving Carter Center, frequent visits to Israel and writings on the subject matter.

Full Q & A with him [here]

Community Mediation in New Zealand
There could now be a new way to sort out your differences.
Waitakere Community Law Service has launched a community mediation service, a national first.
The service will run in association with New Zealand’s leading resolution and not-for-profit organisation LEADR NZ.
LEADR NZ chairwoman Carol Powell says the service is likely to be dealing with issues that can’t be resolved by standard legal processes with the value of the disputes being $20,000 or less.

Check out LEADR’s site [here]

Rotary World Peace Fellowships

February 15, 2009

This is a fantastic opportunity:

The Rotary Club of Comox has applications for Rotary World Peace Fellowships for the 2010–2011 scholastic year.
The fellowships are for study at one of the seven Rotary Centres for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution to obtain a master’s degree in international relations, peace studies, conflict resolution and related areas, or a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies.


Locations include:

• Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand;
• Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.A. (both universities jointly host one Rotary Centre);
• International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan;
• Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
• University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England;
• University of California, Berkeley, California, U.S.A.;
• University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Full article [here]

More info at their site [here]

Go ahead, be Stupid!

February 13, 2009

Go Ahead, Be Stupid!

Yes, the title is a bit gimmicky but what I am trying to say is ‘playing dumb’ works in mediation and negotiation. It does not matter if you are the mediator, a negotiator or one of the parties involved.

What am I talking about?

Playing dumb means acting as if you do not understand. Sometimes that very well might even be the case too! So how do you play dumb?

Ask questions.

Ask open ended questions.

“I am not sure what you mean?”

“I am not sure if I understand, can you say that again?”

“I am not sure if I am following you.”

What does this accomplish? Many things. One is if they are trying to play tricks and sneak in extras just when you think an agreement is reached. By stopping and asking questions, it slows things down and instead of the pressure being on you, it is back on them.

Open ended questions also allows the other party to further explain themselves which then can give them the feeling of knowing they are being heard. It also shows that you are interested in really understanding and hearing what their interests are.

Another positive to ‘playing dumb’ is it helps keep you cool. What if the other person just said something that was meant to instigate you? Especially if the intention was to get you angry and flustered, instead of doing what they want and expect- for you to react, ‘play dumb’ by asking a question which deflects their attempt.

By putting it back to them helps you maintain composure and allows them to further explain him/herself. So, instead of saying, “you are a liar!”, maybe this would be beneficial, “I thought we were about to finalize an agreement, so I am not sure what that last comment means, could you help me understand?”.

Remember, a good negotiator and mediator listens more than they talk.

Fired During Mediation!

February 12, 2009

note: the ‘fired during mediation is the third story down

New Mediation Program In the Twin Cities
This article [here] talks about a new court of Appeals mediation program in the Twin Cities. Worth the fews minutes to read.

What I would like to point out is the issue of paid mediators versus voluntarily service. The program received a one year grant for $30,000.

…But the mediators say they cannot remain pro bono for long. “The program will probably continue after the first year pilot if they are willing to find people willing to do cases at a lower rate,” said Niemi. “I’d be willing to do sliding scale and pro bono as long as there are some paying clients.”

What is not clear is how the mediator is paid? Are they employees of the court system? Are they considered the same as outside contractors?

The question I ask everyone is how are the programs you are involved in handled- are the mediators paid or volunteers? If paid, how is the payment decided?

onto other news…

Mediation Talks Hailed a Success By Police
Mediation between young people and residents on the Knollmead estate in Kingston has been hailed a success by police.

Recent conflict in the area was managed in the short-term by a dispersion order but the council realised this was not an efffective solution and called in Peaceworks Mediation, a professional cross-cultural service, to help bridge the gap.

The lead mediator and his team met with both groups and an agreement to engage in a mediation process was made.
Read the full article [here]

Fired During the Mediation!
That’s right, well at least the article says so. One party comes to mediation to work things out, the other party comes to fire someone!

…The complaint comes after a failed attempt at mediating Kamps’ claims on January 12, 2009. According to the complaint, the firm has subjected Kamps to a long course of adverse action, including firing her during the January 12, 2009 mediation session aimed at settling the matter. “I have been mistreated by Fried, Frank and hope to shine a light on the differences between the firm’s official policies and what the partners actually do,” said Kamps.

Read it [here]

Students Key In Mediation
SCHENECTADY — Mary Ann McGovern has coordinated more than 200 successful peer mediations at Schenectady High School, closely monitoring students as they work together to resolve conflicts through conversation.

The retired police detective has built upon her experiences in the field to help reduce the number of violent incidents at the school, by coordinating the Center for Community Justice’s peer mediation program. The position is funded through an annual contract between the center and the Schenectady City School District.

“Peer mediators are a group of trained, dedicated students who help their fellow classmates resolve their own issues,” said McGovern, who has served as mediation coordinator for a year. “We do not give advice or judge. We just guide the mediation process.”

Full Story [here]

Bury Mediation Scheme Launched
The Whitefield office of Contour Homes has teamed up with housing colleagues at Irwell Valley Housing Association and Bury Councils Anti Social Behaviour Team to launch a free mediation team for Bury residents.

Ann Walton from Contour Homes said: “This scheme is quite unique because it is bringing together housing experts from different organisations. All parties are ‘loaning’ their experts free of charge in order to provide an impartial service to people living in Bury.”

Previously all organisations would have used the services of an external consultant, however this has proved expensive and Ann Walton believes this year long pilot service will not only save money but will also help share good practice amongst themselves.

“Essentially the service is for neighbours who have fallen out and are at the stage where they can no longer talk to each other,” she said. “Our trained mediators will work with all parties to find a solution that is agreeable to everyone.”

The mediators from each organisation will not be asked to mediate on any cases referred by their own organisation to ensure strict impartiality.
Full story [here]

Mediator Honored By Victoria Police Department
From Police.Vic.Gov.Au
Inspector Allan Folvig, Staff Officer to Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans.
Allan Folvig’s commitment to Victoria Police and the community it serves is genuine. Throughout his 29 plus year career, he has displayed dedication in completing all tasks requested or required of him in an efficient manner. His is known for his commitment to instigating changes to departmental practices that increase the effectiveness of personnel and overall improve community safety.

He is widely known for his professional attitude, investigative skills, leadership skills, knowledge, experience and integrity which has been recognised by his appointment to a specialist Task Force and the National Crime Authority (Australian Crime Commission).

Since 2004, he has been highly sought after to assist in the resolution of workplace conflict issues where his understanding nature has resulted in the successful mediation of these matters. The numerous favourable comments received from all parties involved attests to this. He is also highly regarded for his mentoring of other mediators.

Throughout his career, Allan Folvig has served Victoria Police and the community in a professional and ethical manner at all times. His quiet nature makes him a respected achiever and is recognised for his dedication to serving and protecting the Victorian community.

San Fran Ripe For Mediation

February 11, 2009
Patrick Goggin wrote a really good piece about how the budget situation in San Fransisco could benefit from mediation. “Marc”, a reader who posted a comment, then wrote an interesting assessment of how mediation would be a a disservice to the people of San Fran because, “Uh, we elect people to bring our politics to the table and sort things out. When the author is suggesting is that an unelected third party be substituted for the will of the electorate as expressed through our representatives.”

Many things to comment on here. First I will start with the reader “Marc” and his comments. If you click the link below, you see his post was not just some quick, knee-jerk response. In contrast, he wrote a seven paragraph response. Unfortunately, I do not believe he fully understands what mediation is. As we all know, a mediator does not make any decisions, but rather helps the parties work together to identify issues, explore solutions and then work on an possible agreement that is acceptable to all. A mediator is not a substitute but rather another character to the equation.

Take a look at then at the second paragraph and Marc also believes power has to be substituted or handed over to the mediator. I actually talk about power in my opening statement during civil court mediation. I purposely mentioned power and how it lies entirely in the hands of each of the parties- not the mediator.

Admittedly I do not know the inner political story behind all the budget talks but I don’t think it is all that necessary to see that a mediator can help in this, and similar situations.

Patrick Googin adds this towards the end of his article, “While the City’s current budget crisis may not be of Middle East conflict proportions, it certainly is a crisis worthy of special mediation. To get to mediation, however, the parties must enter into the mediation voluntarily – they must want to participate and be willing to strike a compromise to end the stalemate the parties find themselves in. Board President David Chiu, a seasoned attorney and one who recognizes the importance of stakeholder buy-in, should propose employing a special mediator to help solutions rise from the current budgetary deficit abyss.”

I am not sure of Mr. Goggin’s experience in mediation, but he makes a valid point here so kudos to him.

Read the article [here].

Spring Conference Time!

February 10, 2009

The ABA Section on Dispute Resolution’s 11th Annual Spring Conference (wow that’s a mouthful) is this April, did you know?

Well, you do now and I highly recommend it. It happens to be in New York City, from April 15th – 18th at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers.

There are many superb speakers that will be present. Honestly, the tough part will be to try and fit everything in. Don’t believe me, or slightly curious about the authenticity of that comment? Well then check the brochure right [here] and see for yourself.

A disclaimer by the way, I am not a member of the ABA or own stock in it, so I have no gain in mentioning it other than I get $1 for each person that visits the site and signs up from my link… kidding 🙂

My all-star list at the moment includes:

* Communicating Across Cultures
* Mediating Globally: The impact of Culture on Mediation
* Neuroscience, Negotiation and Persuasion
* ADR in the Growing Complexity of International Art Law
* Government Transition and the Role of ADR
*Designing Justice: Dispute System Design and Justice in Education, Courts, Communities & Employment
* Designing Effective Public Input Processes
* Mediators Beyond Borders
* Marketing Plan Workshop
* High Risk Negotiations
* The 7 Keys to Mediation as a Global Profession

Oh, and that’s my basic, at-the-moment, itinerary so if you want to stalk me at the Conference, there you go.

I am sure I will blog on this more leading up to the event but thought I would give a heads up to those who have not heard about it yet.

Finally, the link to the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution is [here] and registration is [here]

News & Tips

February 9, 2009

Mediators Prepare New Darfur Peace Push
Mediators attempting to broker an end to the six-year war in Darfur met in the Qatari capital on Monday ahead of the first peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement since 2007.

“The meeting aimed at discussing and rendering the Darfur peace talks successful,” the mediators said in a joint statement after their talks.

The mediators included Arab League chief Amr Mussa, OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihasanoglu, African Union commission chairman Jean Ping, Qatar’s state minister for foreign affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmud and United Nations and African Union chief negotiator on Darfur Djibril Bassole.
Full article [here]

Law Firm Expands Dispute Resolution Team
LAW firm Atteys has expanded its Dispute Resolution department into Sheffield and Rotherham.

In a bid to help more local businesses defy the credit crunch, the service brings together specialist legal advice, aimed at helping businesses and individuals resolve a wide range of problems, without the need of facing long and potentially costly courtroom battles.Atteys launched its Dispute Resolution Department in 2007 and since that time, the firm has helped many small businesses in the region to recover bad debts, overcome employment matters such as handling redundancies and unfair dismissal claims, as well as providing legal makeovers – ensuring businesses are compliant with the latest legislation.
Full article [here]

Dispute Resolution in the Recession
Recessions produce a boom in disputes — and in the past have produced a correspondingly increased volume of litigation. However, the results may differ this time around. Unexpected and especially sudden changes in the economy and, even more so, volatility (the hallmark of the global economy in 2008) generate disputes. Business expectations are shattered. Prices fluctuate. Financing is withdrawn or fails to materialize. The economic foundations of contracts collapse. And business partners, suppliers and customers fail to perform, or even go out of business.
Full article [here]

Court of Appeals Testing New Mediation
A new Court of Appeals mediation program for family law cases is saving thousands of dollars for the litigants and for the court. About half of the first twenty cases to go through the program were successfully settled, according to John Kostouros, director of the state court information office.
Full, short article [here]

Obama appoints Native woman to mediator’s post
After an eight-year void in the White House, President Barack Obama has appointed an American Indian to a high-profile intergovernmental job to be the “eyes and ears” of Indian Country.The Obama administration named three people to posts in its intergovernmental affairs office on Friday, including Jodi Archambault Gillette, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The Lakota woman will serve as a deputy associate director in an office that functions as a mediator between the administration and state, tribal and local governments.“This is the first time we’ve had an American Indian that close to the White House, dealing with intergovernmental affairs,” said David Gipp, president of the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, N.D., where Gillette previously served as director of the Native American Training Institute, a tribally operated nonprofit organization.

She will be very helpful in coordinating tribal government, tribal leaders and Indian affairs across the board and all the federal agencies where there will be issues affecting tribes and Indian people,” said Gipp. “She’ll be able to reach across from one agency to the next. We look forward to her coordinating meetings at the highest levels of government with some of the secretaries and also the president.”
Full story [here]

Construction ADR Tips (Middle East Specifically)
Some very good, basic tips, one of which is:

Provide for arbitration
Contracts need to include an effective dispute resolution mechanism, which may act as a deterrent to disputes. Arbitration is gaining increasing acceptance in the region and arbitration clauses are now common in many construction contracts. But don’t forget that the enforcement of arbitral awards remains a challenge in certain jurisdictions, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Read them all [here]

Weekend Mediation & ADR News 2.7.09

February 7, 2009

Weekend Mediation & ADR News

Some really good news, take a few minutes to have a read!

Mediation Between Police Union and Stockton Ends
Something as delicate as mediation between two parties such as a police union and city officials perhaps should have been given more that one very, very long day.

Mediation between the city and the police officers union was attempted in a single meeting lasting from 9 a.m. to past 10 p.m. on Jan. 29 at downtown’s Stewart/Eberhardt Essential Services Building, City Attorney Ren Nosky said.

This is the case in the Californian city of Stockton. Some interesting quotes from the Recordnet.com article:

Fritchen said, “In the mediation process, there’s some desire of a mediator that people will move toward the middle. The city doesn’t have any funds to be able to make any movement, and that doesn’t work well for mediation.”

The article mentions that the next step is arbitration that I believe is binding. It seems like the city is digging their heels here. I wonder what if they worked out their BATNA and WATNA?

The Union President seems to think things will go his way, after alleging the city would not budge during mediation:

“The city’s going to end up having to pay more, and it’s binding,” said Officer Steve Leonesio, the union’s president, of the prospects for arbitration.

Full Story [here]

Mediators Enter Mauling Case Talks
SAN FRANCISCO – A mediator has been brought into settlement talks between The City and the brothers seeking damages after being mauled by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day 2007, according to court documents.
Settlement talks are also ongoing in a separate lawsuit filed by the family of 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., a friend of the brothers who was killed by the tiger.
Both lawsuits claim The City and the San Francisco Zoological Society, which the city contracts to operate the zoo, are responsible for damages stemming from the attack by the tiger, which escaped its enclosure. A wall surrounding the big cat pen was found to be short of recommended standards.

Full Story [here]

Marianne Not ‘Short’ on Mediation Skills
pun intended
A Criminal Justice Center dispute between Houston County and the City of Caledonia may finally be over. The Houston County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to accept a mediated settlement with City of Caledonia at its Tuesday meeting.
State mediator Marianne Short had presided over a day-long meeting between county and city officials the previous day, Jan. 26.The terms of the agreement, which were made available at the commissioners’ meeting, call for a smaller CJC to be located directly east of the courthouse, behind Memorial Plaza and west of Pine Street (south of the existing jail). The agreement limits the size of the structure to 65,000 square feet. This is almost 20,000 square feet less than the county’s last proposal, which would have been located just south of the courthouse.
Full Story [here]

International Dispute Resolution Distance Learning LL.M. Starts at Dundee
Flexible course can be completed in 15 months; involves two residence periods
Feb 7, 2009

In January, the Dundee Law School at the University of Dundee started a new distance learning LL.M. program in International Dispute Resolution. The course will involve two five-day, on-campus residential periods for practical negotiation and mediation skills. Diploma or certificate options in this field are also available.The LL.M. course can take anywhere from 15 months to 5 years to complete, depending on the student’s desired pace.
Full Story [here]

Role of UN Mediators Needs to be Reviewed
An Editorial by Kathleen Wilmes
The recent decision made by the United Nations to remain in Sudan, even after the body was asked to leave by the Sudanese government, and the situation taking place in Darfur brings up so many questions, and so many takes on the topic at hand. But instead of concentrating on the government of Sudan, or whether or not the rebel forces have legitimate claims, I feel that the power and authority of the United Nations and the African Union, involved as mediators and peacekeeping forces, must be reviewed. More importantly, is it appropriate for the AU and the UN to remain once a member state asks them to leave? In this case, yes.
Full editorial [here]

Los Angeles PD and Mediation
After months of insisting there is no evidence of racial profiling in the department, LAPD officials suggest the term “biased” policing should be used when handling a wide range of public complaints, including race, age and gender.
In a report to the Police Commission scheduled to be considered on Tuesday, it is also recommended the LAPD make use of the dispute resolution program in the City Attorney’s Office to resolve public complaints before they get to the lawsuit stage.

Full story [here]

Mediation With 32 Groups!
RAY BROOK — Talks have stalled, but the biggest housing proposal ever made in the Adirondack Park is still on the table, a spokesman for the Adirondack Park Agency said Thursday.
Closed-door efforts to resolve objections to the 700-unit project planned for 4,600 acres around the Big Tupper Ski Area have been on hold since last fall.

…The APA began holding hearings in front of an administrative law judge in the spring of 2007, but they were delayed twice at the request of Preserve Associates, which then asked to move into private mediation with 32 groups that had a say in the proceedings.
Full Story [here]

International Mediator Update

February 6, 2009

International Mediator Update

The latest update:

Tony Blair (United Kingdom)- Leads the ‘Quartet’ as head mediator/negotiator in the Hamas-Israel conflict. Role might be diminished as newly elected US President Obama seemingly wants to go in a more USA-led direction with Secretary of State Clinton and Middle East Envoy George Mitchell. Thing are not so bad though, seems has been been given the title of ‘first friend’ by President Obama (read it here).

Also, recently stopped by my office… really, read it [here]

Nicolas Sarkozy (France)- Attempted to mediate same as above to no avail. He did meet today with Palestinian President Abbas and the Prime Minister of Qatar. The latest rumored mediator role is possibly in the Croatia-Slovakia border dispute.

Thabo Mbeki (South Africa)- as previously mentioned here, the leaders in Africa have lost faith in his ability to be the mediator in the situation in Zimbabwe.

Moammar Gadhafi (Libya)- Newly elected president of the African Union, vows to continue effort as a mediator is the Darfur region. Has had little success so far.

Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey)- Severely jeopardized his neutrality and role of international mediator with his public condemnation of Israel last month.

Jimmy Carter (USA)- The former President also jeopardized his neutrality when recently asked by a reporter who was responsible for the conflict in Gaza, his reply was, “Israel.” He also added, “”You got to talk to both sides,” Carter said. “But you can’t … take the position that everything that Israel does is right, and that anybody who disagrees with them is an act of terrorism. You got to try to find solutions that relate to both sides.”

International Mediator (general)- From the BBC, Leaders of the Anglican Communion are to employ professional mediators in an attempt to resolve their ongoing dispute over sexuality.
Full Story [here]

This story has received considerable media coverage on all the major networks here in the States. SAO PAULO (AP) — An American man who has waged a four-year custody battle for his son in Brazil brought a U.S. congressman along Thursday to help make his case to the country’s courts and politicians.

Speaking with The Associated Press on their way to Brasilia, David Goldman said he has not been allowed to see his 8-year-old son Sean since his former wife Bruna took the boy for a two-week vacation to her native Brazil in 2004 and never returned.

…Both sides are scheduled to meet Friday with a high-ranking Brazilian federal judge who is expected to attempt mediation or decide whether the case should be heard in federal or state courts in Rio de Janeiro, said a court spokeswoman who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.
Full story [here]