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The goal of a settlement conference is to assist the parties in negotiating a resolution of all or part of their dispute. A settlement conference may either be voluntary or ordered by the court. It may be conducted by the judge assigned to the case, another assigned judge, a volunteer attorney, or a private judge, who evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the case without issuing any decisions or orders.

For more information, please refer to the Settlement Conference Frequently Asked Questions and Local Rule 6.13.

If you are interested in serving as a Settlement Attorney, please refer to the Pro Tem Judge/Settlement Attorney Program.

Question What is a settlement conference?
In a settlement conference, a judge or volunteer attorney assists the parties by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the case and attempting to negotiate a settlement of the dispute, but without making any decisions or orders in the case. Settlement conferences may be either mandatory (court-ordered) or voluntary. Mandatory settlement conferences are often held close to the date a case is set for trial. Please refer to the court's Local Rule 6.13 for more information.

Question How do I request a voluntary settlement conference?
Settlement conferences may be requested if the parties certify that:

(1) settlement negotiations between the parties have been pursued, demands and offers have been tendered in good faith, and resolution has failed;
(2) a judicially supervised settlement conference presents a substantial opportunity for settlement; and
(3) the case has developed to a point where all parties are legally and factually prepared to present the issues for settlement consideration and further discovery for settlement purposes is not required. Refer to Local Rules for more information. 

To schedule a settlement conference, contact the calendar clerk (831)647-5800 or the department to which your case is assigned. 

Question Who will conduct the settlement conference?
A judge may conduct the settlement conference, or, volunteer settlement attorneys may also conduct settlement conferences. The judge who would preside at trial generally does not conduct the settlement conference, but this can occur.

Question How much does a settlement conference cost?
The settlement conference itself is conducted at no charge to the parties. However, attorneys may charge clients for their time in preparing for and attending the settlement conference.

Question Who must attend the settlement conference?
All parties must be personally present at the settlement conference. A party or representative with complete legal and monetary authority to settle the case must be present (ex. claims adjusters for insured defendants.)  Everyone attending a settlement conference is required to participate in good faith and be prepared to settle the case. If pre-approved by the judge, individuals may appear by telephone standby. Refer to Local Rule 6.13 for more information.

Question How do I prepare for the settlement conference?
A good faith settlement demand and offer should be exchanged in advance of the settlement conference.  Counsel appearing on behalf of their clients must be completely familiar with the case and possess complete authority to negotiate and settle. Counsel must have authority to make a specific demand and must be authorized to make an offer or counteroffer in a specific amount.  Refer to Local Rule 6.13

If a participant is not fully prepared or fails to participate in good faith, the court may continue the hearing and/or impose sanctions against the offending party. If the hearing proceeds as scheduled, the orders made will not be subject to reconsideration due to counsel's unfamiliarity with the case at the time of the hearing. Refer to Local Rule 6.13 for more information.

Question Are settlement conference briefs required?
Yes. Written statements of the position of each party must be submitted to the settlement conference judge and served on other parties five court days prior to the settlement conference, unless otherwise ordered. Refer to  Local Rule 6.13 for more information.

If the settlement conference is to be heard by a volunteer settlement attorney, the settlement conference brief must be submitted to the court, not the attorney. Refer to Local Rules for more information.

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