In This Issue
Our Newest Neutrals
Article: Brain Science and Mediation

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The McCammon Group (TMG) is an alternative dispute resolution provider comprised of over 70 retired judges and practicing attorneys who possess a variety of subject matter backgrounds.  Founded in Virginia in 1995, TMG has since expanded into Washington, D.C. and Maryland.  Although based in the mid-Atlantic, TMG Neutrals serve throughout the country and abroad.

Our Neutrals 
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It has been eight months and we have grown! In the fourth issue of Your Dispute Resolution Resource, we introduce you to our six new Neutrals throughout Virginia, DC, and Maryland, and provide you with an article written by Joan Zeldon on the latest research connecting Brain Science and Mediation.


We hope this publication will keep you up to date on the latest topics in the world of dispute resolution and that you find useful information to help in your law practice.    


 Our Newest Neutrals


Hon. Michael C. Allen (Ret.) - Richmond, VA
  After serving the Twelfth Judicial Circuit of Virginia for twelve years, including two terms as Chief Judge, Michael Allen has retired. A leader on the bench and at the bar, Judge Allen is a past President of the John Marshall American Inn of Court, the Chesterfield County Bar Association, and the Richmond Criminal Bar Association. Prior to his judicial career, he enjoyed a broad litigation practice, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. He currently serves on the Virginia Bar Association Civil Litigation Council, is Vice-Chair of the Virginia State Bar Special Committee on Bench-Bar Relations, and teaches as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law. 
DohnalAfter more than twelve years of distinguished service as a United States District Court Magistrate Judge, Denny Dohnal has recently retired. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he had a successful private practice and was a Past President of both the City of Richmond Bar Association and the Richmond Criminal Bar Association. He served as Special Counsel to the Division of Legislative Services of the Virginia General Assembly and was a former Assistant United States Attorney. A veteran of more than 1,000 settlement conferences, Judge Dohnal now joins The McCammon Group to serve the mediation, arbitration, judge pro tempore, and special master needs of lawyers and litigants throughout Virginia and beyond.


Hon. Henry L. Jones, Jr. (Ret.) - Upper Marlboro, MD      
After more than 30 exemplary years on the Federal bench, Judge Jones has recently retired. Notably, Judge Jones completed over 1,000 settlement conferences during his judicial service. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan Law School, he enjoyed a broad civil litigation practice as a Partner at Walker Hollingsworth & Jones, P.A. in Little Rock, AR, prior to his judicial career. Judge Jones recently relocated from Arkansas to the Metropolitan Washington, DC, area where he is now available to serve your private mediation and arbitration needs throughout the mid-Atlantic and beyond.


KirkseyLarry Kirksey recently retired after more than eight years of distinguished service to the 28th Judicial Circuit and two years as Commonwealth's Attorney for the City of Bristol. Preceding his service to the bench and the Commonwealth, he enjoyed a broad civil litigation practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants throughout southwestern Virginia for thirty years. During that time, he served terms as President of the Bristol Bar Association and as a City Councilman for Bristol. An accomplished mediator and arbitrator, Larry was a Member of The McCammon Group from 1998-2002 before beginning his public service career. Now, upon his retirement from the bench, he rejoins The McCammon Group and brings his diverse skills and experience to serve the mediation, arbitration, judge pro tempore, and special master needs of lawyers and litigants throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. 


Hon. Thomas P. Smith (Ret.) - Bowie, MD

After a career of service to Prince George's County and its citizens, Tom Smith has recently retired from the Circuit Court.  His career included service for the Public Defender's Office as a Panel Attorney and as the County Attorney prior to his seventeen years of distinguished judicial service.  Judge Smith was also a past Chair of the Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission and a former Director of the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority. He now joins The McCammon Group and is available to serve the mediation and arbitration needs of lawyers and litigants throughout Prince George's County and across Maryland. 


Hon. Joan Zeldon (Ret.) - Washington, DC 
Zeldon Judge Zeldon served the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with distinction for more than 21 years. Her judicial career began as an Associate Judge and she served as the Deputy Presiding Judge and then as the Presiding Judge of the Civil Division. She was a Member of the Drafting Committees for the Uniform Mediation Act and the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act. During her time on the bench, she conducted hundreds of mediations. She retired in January after handling a wide variety of cases, including complex civil and family law matters. Judge Zeldon now joins The McCammon Group to serve the mediation, arbitration, and special master needs of lawyers and litigants in the District of Columbia, the mid-Atlantic, and throughout the United States. 

The Legacy Award in Law

 RGK 2

Hon. Rufus J. King, III (Ret.) - Washington DC

Judge King received the Washington D.C.'s Hall of Fame Society's Legacy Award for Law at a ceremony held on April 22, 2012. We thank Judge King for his distinctive service and congratulate him on this important recognition.



Brain Science and Mediation

by: Hon. Joan Zeldon (Ret.)  

The term "Brain Science" may sound esoteric, but it is currently the hottest topic in dispute resolution.


Brain Science was a major theme at the ABA Dispute Resolution Section's recent Annual Conference in Washington, DC. In all of the many Brain Science sessions at the Conference, there was standing-room only!


Recent discoveries of how evolution has shaped the brain support what many conflict resolution professionals have known for a long time: under the stress of conflict, it becomes extraordinarily difficult to engage in rational thought, critical analysis, and creative problem solving. Brain Science is developing, dramatically. As advocates learn about this new body of knowledge, they can develop ways to help themselves, their clients, and their adversaries have better access to their own rational minds.


Our brains have the capacity to absorb unimaginable amounts of data, sort through all of it for relevance, and then make sense out of it. Our brains use the meaning we have attached to particular events to help us survive, by predicting what will happen in similar circumstances and by giving us a built-in script to follow should that situation arise again. It's how our earliest ancestors associated the sight, smell or sound of a predator with the reality of the threat, and then immediately froze, ran, or fought off the predator.


Research shows that the brain perceives and responds to threats to social status (humiliation, shunning, or loss of status) in the same way it responds to physical threats. Our brains trigger the same kinds of chemical responses that arose in the lives of our ancestors and we react to these negative social events (ego events) as if our lives depended on it - literally.


With this scientific information in hand, mediators and advocates can help people in conflict overcome their automatic responses and gain access to the rational, problem-solving parts of their brains. For example, mediators can establish a comfortable environment for engagement, lay out reasonable ground rules, encourage the full exchange of information, and minimize the triggering of the natural fear response by simply acknowledging that these fears exist. By highlighting the importance of self -determination, mediators can help the parties engage the part of the brain responsible for high-level thinking, leading to enhanced creativity and the exploration of alternative solutions.


These techniques, and many others, have been used in mediation for many years - not because we had scientific justification for their use, but because we observed in our own practices that they were helpful in resolving entrenched conflict.


Each year The McCammon Group brings together all of its ADR Professionals to study the developing principles in ADR processes. In recognition of the great strides being made in Brain Science research, The McCammon Group will study this important new development at its 17th Annual Conference next month.


Since its beginning in 1995, The McCammon Group has been focused on professionalism. Training is a cornerstone of this effort. It is critical when our Professionals first enter the ADR profession and at every step thereafter, since we know that excellent performance is achieved through ongoing training and the sharing of best practices among our Professionals.


Whether we are investigating Brain Science or developing new techniques and skills, our commitment to training is essential to our mission to serve the attorneys who retain us and the disputants who rely on us.



For more information on Brain Science and how it relates to ADR see the article: Neuroscience and Settlement: An Examination of Scientific Innovations and Practical Applications, Richard Birke, Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution (25 Ohio St. J. on Disp.Resol. 477, 2010)

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