Fast Five - Rhode Island Appellate Practice: May 2013 (Special Edition)

by Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

Rhode Island Appellate Practice

Five Appellate Mediation Practice Tips from the

Hon. Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice, Rhode Island Supreme Court (Ret.)

This special edition of the Fast Five on Rhode Island Appellate Practice features a Q & A with retired Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams.  Since his retirement in 2008, Chief Justice Williams has served as a mediator with the Rhode Island Supreme Court Appellate Mediation Program, a program that the Supreme Court implemented during his tenure as Chief Justice in 2003.  He also mediates and arbitrates cases privately at the request of parties.  Participation in appellate mediation is mandatory for most cases that come before the Court.  See R.I. Sup. Ct. R. App. P. 35.  The Appellate Mediation Program has a success rate of resolving more than fifty percent of the cases that come before it.  For more information about the Appellate Mediation Program, including Appellate Mediation forms, please see or R.I. Sup. Ct. R. App. P. 35. 

  1. If you were representing a party that prevailed in the Superior Court and is now the appellee on appeal, how would you impress upon him or her that appellate mediation is worthwhile? 

Chief Justice Williams:  “I would emphasize to my client that simply because he or she prevailed in the Superior Court does not mean that he or she will prevail on appeal.  In cases in which the judgment is more than what the party expected to be awarded, there is more room for give and take in the spirit of mediation.  It costs nothing to mediate a case through the Appellate Mediation Program and parties have nothing to lose by participating.  In fact, they have the advantage of not needing to order the transcript of the Superior Court proceeding while the mediation is pending.”

  1. How could attorneys better prepare themselves and their clients for appellate mediation?

Chief Justice Williams:  “By the time they reach the appellate mediation process, counsel are already familiar with the merits of the case but they should remember that merits, by themselves, do not resolve cases in mediation.  Attorneys need to think outside the merits and have realistic discussions with their clients about their client's expectations.  Attorneys should come to appellate mediation with an understanding of what it will take for their clients to resolve the case.  Sometimes, the answer is not monetary in nature.  An apology may even suffice.”

  1. What should attorneys expect when they appear for appellate mediation? 

Chief Justice Williams:  “Attorneys should always expect a level playing field when they appear for appellate mediation.  The mediator is not there to take one side or the other, nor is the mediator there to decide the case.  Attorneys should expect that the mediator may wish to speak with his or her client alone.  Attorneys should place their trust in the mediator and the process and remind their clients to do the same.  Attorneys should also be prepared for multiple mediation sessions if the mediation has not reached an impasse.”

  1. What information do you look for in the parties’ confidential mediation statements?

Chief Justice Williams:  “It is important that the parties’ mediation statements include a brief factual overview of the case because, as mediators, we do not have the record before us.  It is also important for the mediator to understand from the mediation statements, the parties’ state of mind and their bottom line.”

  1. Do you agree that there are some cases that do not lend themselves to resolution through appellate mediation? 

Chief Justice Williams:  “Reluctantly, yes.  There are some cases that do not lend themselves to resolution through appellate mediation.  Some examples are pro se cases (unless the pro se is also an attorney), post-conviction relief cases and petitions for writs of certiorari when there is no final judgment.  Some mediators believe that cases in which there are numerous parties may be inappropriate for mediation but I would try to mediate those cases too.  Another category of cases which are likely inappropriate for mediation are cases of first impression in which a party needs or wants a determination from the Supreme Court on an issue of law.  Insurers, for example, sometimes need a determination on the state of the law on a particular issue, which mediation is unable to offer.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C.

Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.