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Fifth Judicial District Court

Tribunal del Quinto Distrito Judicial

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LR5-205. Settlement conference.

  1. Pursuant to Rule 1-016 NMRA, a settlement conference may be conducted by a judge of this district who is not assigned to the case, a judge pro tem, or a member of the bar who is acceptable to both parties. A settlement conference will be ordered if the trial judge deems it to be appropriate or after agreement by counsel that such a conference may result in a settlement of some or all of the issues in the case. If the conference is assigned to a judge pro tem or lawyer, the parties will arrange directly with the judge pro tem or lawyer for the payment of the hourly fee and expenses.
  2. Upon a settlement conference being ordered, the trial judge or the settlement conference judge may enter a settlement conference order. All parties shall participate at the settlement conference in good faith and sanctions shall be imposed if the settlement conference judge finds that a party has not participated in good faith in the settlement conference, and the trial judge adopts the findings made by the settlement conference judge.
  3. The judge or lawyer hearing such settlement conference is expected to promote a settlement, and will be an active participant in the conference. The judge may ask questions of counsel regarding testimony they expect to elicit and may state the judge's opinion of the strength or weakness of any position taken by either or both parties.
  4. The initial step following the entry of a settlement conference order prior to the actual mediation will be submission by both parties to the judge hearing the settlement conference of short confidential written statements of fact with the applicable law supporting those contentions from each side. This submission should be a statement of what the lawsuit is about and why each side believes they should prevail. The statement should clearly set out the issues to be determined by the jury, e.g. liability (including statement of facts) damages (medical expenses, etc.). The statements should contain frank and realistic appraisals of the strengths and weaknesses of both positions, and the settlement value of the lawsuit. This may be a statement of a range or other requested relief. The statement shall also include the parties' last offer of settlement.
  5. When the settlement conference is held, each party, together with his or her attorney, shall appear. If one of the parties has insurance coverage, a representative of the insurance company shall be present for the settlement conference, unless the settlement conference judge allows the representative to be present by telephone. Each side must have settlement authority.
  6. The first discussion in the settlement conference hearing will be a short statement by counsel of the lawsuit. All parties and counsel will be present at this stage.
  7. Each side may address the strengths and weaknesses of the other side's case. These statements may include discussions of testimony which is expected from the witnesses on either side of the case.
  8. Then the judge will excuse defense counsel and the defendant and confer with the plaintiff and plaintiff's counsel. The judge will discuss with the plaintiff, the costs of further litigation and give a frank appraisal of the judge's opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiff's case, including the judge's appraisal of the value of the lawsuit. The judge will excuse the plaintiff and counsel, and confer with the defendant and defense counsel. The same procedure will be followed.
  9. Thereafter the judge will continue alternate meetings with the parties until such time as the judge is satisfied that no further progress toward settlement can be made or that the case has been settled.
  10. With all parties present, the judge will address what the judge believes to be the strengths and weaknesses of each side of the case, and state the judge's opinion of the lawsuit, and what a fair settlement would be. The parties will be allowed to confer with each other to see if an agreement can be reached.

[Approved, effective April 1, 1999.]

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