By Deborah Jay Levy JD, MSW, MPH

On January 20th 2016, Commissioner Richards (Department 57, Contra Costa Superior Court), in conjunction with The Congress of Neutrals, has launched a new approach to Unlawful Detainer cases heard at the Martinez court.  Referred to as our Early Mediation Program (EMP), parties to the unlawful detainer/eviction civil action are heading to court for a scheduled mediation with one of our experienced and talented mediators right before the scheduled trial. The goal is to get the parties to sit down to the table and work out a settlement agreement or stipulated judgment and ultimately cut down on trials.

Our settlement statistics for the first few weeks of the EMP have been tremendous, well over 50 percent. In fact, on February 10th, 2016, our mediators settled all the cases that went to mediation.  We are very excited to continue working with Commissioner Richards and commend his support for mediation.  He hopes, with the success of this program in Martinez, to expand the program to both the Richmond and Pittsburg courts.

If you would like more information about EMP and/or would like to get involved in mediating these cases, please contact Deborah Levy at