By Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Speech at dedication of Western Justice Center Foundation

February 8, 1999

Speech at dedication of Western Justice Center Foundation
Type: Speech
Location: Dedication of Western Justice Center Foundation

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(Automatically generated)

Sandra Day O'Connor [automatically transcribed, may contain inaccuracies]
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Sandra Day O'Connor [automatically transcribed, may contain inaccuracies]
Thank you judge Nelson, for that very splendid introduction. You can just see why it's been so terrific for the western Justice Center to have just judge Nelson involved. Because talk about a bundle of energy. And you can't tell her No. I mean, there's no such thing. So she has a tremendous asset. And President Donald Baker who has provided such Distinguished Public Service in Los Angeles County, along with his legal work, and I know what an asset he's been to this institution, and Bill Drake, who was captured from a dispute resolution facility in Washington DC to come out here. And I think that was a great asset. And my boss back here, Chief Judge Proctor hug. I'm the Ninth Circuit justice. So I have to do what he says we're in the ninth circuit here. And so. So he's been a great Chief Judge, and how fortunate it is that he also is involved in this marvelous project that was initiated really by the first efforts of the Ninth Circuit judges, we're going to occupy this wonderful building. You know, the original Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Court building is that fantastic facility in San Francisco that was damaged so badly in the last earthquake, but is now restored at a very high price, taxpayer dollars, but it's it's love light. And the Court of Appeals judges from Southern California used to have chambers and work in downtown Los Angeles. But the old this stuff, but they call it this stuff, Ron de vista Dela Rosa, your hotel, was sitting on the bank of the canyon, they're owned by the federal government not being used.

And in 1986, the government decided that it would dedicate the old hotel as a federal court of appeals building for Southern California. I think the move for that the push for really came from my fellow Arizona, former Chief Judge Richard chambers, and he was the character. I don't know how many of you knowing but he was marvelous. He and his horse, Tom sort of got the job done and getting this hotel converted. And the Court of Appeals judges from the Ninth Circuit who were going to sit in this wonderful converted hotel. Now courthouse, were a little bit concerned about what was right next door, because the federal government and its wisdom, know put up a big chain link fence about two inches from the side of the building. And the rest were these old bungalows that had belonged to the hotel. Well, I think the judges were concerned because these bungalows were, after all, in their own yard, or cartilage is we lawyers like to say, and I thought it was really a remarkable bit of community action and ingenuity. When, in 1985, a group of the judges and some local lawyers decided to form the western Justice Center Foundation, and to try to acquire and use some of the bungalows for related programs and activities. And you've heard today about what some of those programs are, and what they've done, and the foundation work with the city of Pasadena to acquire four of the bungalows the city I understand purchase them from the federal General Services Administration, and then lease them to the foundation on a long term lease basis. And in the years that have followed the foundation with many volunteers who are present here today, have raised the funds to renovate the Richard Keating building, which was dedicated in 1994 by my colleague and justice, Anthony Kennedy, former Ninth Circuit Judge. And in 1996, the second building was restored and leased to the Pacific oaks Research Center. The institution doing research on early childhood education. Now it was dedicated by then Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas of the California Supreme Court. Today, of course, we celebrate the restoration of the third building the friends building, I like that name, because so many people join them to help financing that idea, Molly, and with an initial grant from the Irvine Foundation, and there's one more building to be renovated the Maxwell House, so stay tuned for the fourth dedication ceremony, a year or so down the road, but that'll put it in the next millennium.

Now, along with the renovation of the buildings, the foundation itself was renovated in a sense, I think their concepts of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to go about it changed as it went along. And as you heard the friends building is going to house the regional division of the Casey Foundation, which is devoted to the development of ways to mentor protect and enhance the lives of foster children and other children in low income areas and schools. And the other occupant for the moment is going to be the facts organization to try to teach the media a few of the facts now how about that for a change. I like that that sounds good to me. That Casey Foundation Center here is headed by Dr. Katherine Gable, who's here today a talented and remarkable woman, whom I actually first met in 1969, Arizona, when she had the first of that state's juvenile incarceration facility for young women. And she brings a lifetime of experience working with children, to her work with the Casey Foundation.

Now all of this is just a little historical background on why we're gathered here today. But it also explains why I'm happy to be here. Although I am the Ninth Circuit justice, and I'm supposed to ride the circuit, I guess. It is my first visit to the Richard chambers courthouse and to its neighboring bungalows, and I'm really tickled to see all of that today. Now, as we've heard a principal focus of the Western Justice Center, and the foundation is on non judicial dispute resolution. In our country, it's a very important focus. Indeed, Americans are the most litigious people in the world today. Our judicial system has been too successful in some ways. within our communities, disputes between neighbors and citizens are common squabbles between neighbors over yards, dogs, fences boundaries have always existed. But in the past few years, we have witnessed rioting in the streets of major cities such as Los Angeles, and frequent breakdowns and the relationships between employers and their employees. We've been made painfully aware of the violence within our schools by the ghastly school shootings in Oregon and Arkansas. Even within churches, disputes have arisen between ministers and congregations, retiring pastors and new pastors, and members of a religious institutions hierarchy. I've even read of a report of accounts inflict arising from a congregations accusation that its minister had an unbending biblical interpretation. In short, conflict can be found throughout our communities, including those parts of our communities, families, schools and churches that for a long time, have function to resolve disputes not initiate. Pundits have suggested a number of theories to explain the growing number of conflicts within our communities, ranging from rapid industrialization and urbanization, to a general breakdown in societal norms. While it's important to identify the causes of conflicts in society, regardless of the causes, we have to find ways to mend the tears in our social fabric that these disputes cause, in short, we have to find ways to resolve more of the disputes that permeate our society today, and to do it effectively, and non violently.

Not all disputes are amenable to adjudication and court, and with apologies to any trial lawyers present. Today, the court room may be a poor vehicle for resolving some disputes, because the adversarial process can work to increase tension between adversaries rather than settlement. One reason is that a court must focus on the particular dispute before it and not formulate long term solutions to complex community problems. If there is no broader approach to resolve these conflicts, even a local dispute can build an end in violence. In the context of cases in the courts, alternatives to full adjudication are today happily, numerous and accessible. letter comes in most areas of the country have the option today of seeking resolution through neutral evaluation, negotiation, arbitration, mediation, or even summary jury trials. And this range of alternative dispute resolution options have benefited the legal system. Not only relieving some congestion in the courts, but also by providing an effective, less costly, less costly, and often more satisfying needs of resolving disputes. Mediation has been successfully used internationally as well as within the United States. American mediation not only helped to end the dispute between Chile and Peru, over the boundary cities of America and techno, but also brought about a truce between Israel and Egypt and the 1970s.

More recently, American negotiators brokered the Dayton accord, bringing some degree of peace to war torn Bosnia Herzegovina. Indeed, America's failure to engage and mediation may have perpetuated some very famous conflicts of our own country. During the war of 1812. For example, sorry, Alexander, the first of Russia offered to mediate the hostilities between the United States and Britain. The United States accepted the offer but Britain rejected it and the war continued. During the Civil War, both Britain and France expressed a willingness to mediate the conflict between the North and the South. But as we know, that also was rejected. Now there are approximately 200 community dispute dispute resolution centers in the United States today. in Dorchester, Massachusetts mediation has been improved Lloyd and lieu of criminal prosecution to settle criminal matters in cases where the the poor, the victim and the defendant know each other. In cities from Elkhart, Indiana, to New York, there are community dispute resolution centers that bring together criminals and they're victims to mediate criminal violence. In the first North American mediation of this kind, a community mediation program in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, brought together two young men who had vandalized some property. And there they had 22 victims. The result was an agreed upon program of restitution to those victims that work so well it began to service and example in this country. varied forms of dispute resolution have also been employed to resolve family disputes. California first offered court connected mediation services in 1930 nine, and the focus was to affect the reconciliation of the spouses. The use of Divorce Mediation is now quite common. Several states allow mediation of custody and visitation issues. In addition, in Cambridge, community panels have been used to mediate Parent Child issues such as curfews and privacy problems.

The most innovative use of nonviolent dispute resolution today, however, has been in our schools. In the fall of 1996, the American Bar Association launched a project outreach to help children manage conflict in schools. As of this January schools and 21 cities are involved in that program. And under this program, local lawyers trained and mediation techniques established school mediation programs, to settle disputes between students, as well as between students, teachers, or administrators. In addition to outreach programs, peer mediation programs have been established in nearly 10,000 schools nationwide. These programs involve mediation conducted by trained teenagers, rather than the community lawyers. They're informally structured with simple rules such as no name calling, and no interrupting others. Now some of these programs emphasize Quaker principles of non violence. Others are modeled after forms of alternative dispute resolution in the adult world. The benefits of using mediation in the school setting are easily demonstrated by the numerous stories of non violent conflict resolution resulting from mediation. For example, in Long Island, a 19 year old boy from Roosevelt junior high school, Whitney Hubbard, grew up in a strife family were both parents use drugs. One morning when he was in the eighth grade and frustration he struck several of his fellow students. He was suspended and subsequently he committed an assault. He spent two years in juvenile detention centers, Whitney finally was released and return to school. By this time, however, Roosevelt school had introduced a mediation service to resolve disputes, Whitney began using it instead of violence to resolve his conflicts. He claims he has now learned to resolve problems rather than to lash out and frustration. He is even the secured after school employment.

At Stamford High School in Connecticut, a young female gang member, once struck a pregnant classmate and was ordered to the school's peer mediation office. After mediating the dispute between the two young women, the teacher in charge of the mediation program, training that young woman gang member to be a mediator herself, and now she has quit the gang. And as a well regarded peer mediator, keeping herself and others out of trouble. It seems only appropriate that the most innovative forms of nonviolent conflict resolution are found in our schools for who better than our young people to learn nonviolent problem solving skills. After children learn to defuse conflicts between each other through nonviolent means. They can utilize these skills to diffuse conflicts between themselves and their teachers, their parents, their siblings, and throughout their adult lives. Mediation and negotiation have also long venues to settle employment disputes. And in the consumer area, there are a number of arbitration problems to deal with consumer disputes. In the context of environmental this, mediation was used for the first time in our history. In 1973, to settle a conflict concerning by the flood control dam should be built on the snow quality River near Seattle. The damming of the river had been debated unsuccessfully for 15 years. But the dispute was resolved by two mediators within one year. Despite the increasing use of these creative forms of nonviolent dispute resolution, there's still a great deal of work to be done to promote this notion around the country. nonviolent dispute resolution is more common today. But these alternatives are not yet generally visible in our communities. In addition, a number of people skilled to mediate such disputes and interested in doing it is somewhat limited. They're just not enough facilities to train me DH or send negotiators to do the work that needs doing. And the western Justice Center is contributing greatly to the application of alternative forms of nonviolent dispute resolution, and community disputes in schools and even internationally, because you've heard, and it is addressing both the concern for greater visibility and as contributing to train mediators. So all of you here today who are interested in the work of the Western Justice Center, are engaged in a very important task. I wish you every success as you start to use this third building the friends building to benefit the city, the state, the nation, and even the larger community of nations. And thank you so much for inviting Jonathan, me to be with you today. And to have this wonderful and inspiring experience. Thanks.