For more than 25 years a nonprofit group on the Vineyard has worked creatively to help keep personal disputes from building into court cases that burden the judicial system and often cost the people in conflict more than they win when the court makes a ruling.
The Martha’s Vineyard Center for Dispute Resolution — formerly the Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program — celebrated its quarter-century anniversary late last fall at a gathering to honor its founders, the late Hon. Herbert Tucker Jr. and former clerk magistrate Thomas Teller, and Margie Haven, a longtime mediator. Speakers, including Timothy Madden, state representative of the Cape and Islands district, emphasized how effectively Vineyard mediators have brought people together, settled misunderstandings, and improved life on a small Island where claims and counterclaims might otherwise fester unnecessarily.
Tomorrow evening, the center hosts a benefit program at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown to examine an issue debated sharply across the country whenever someone is nominated to the United States Supreme Court or a judge rules on a law or referendum with societal implications, such as illegal immigration or gay rights. The talk is called Political Challenges Influencing (or Not) Those Serving on the Bench.
Moderated by Doug Cabral, editor of the Martha’s Vineyard Times, and introduced by the Hon. Ann Brown, who served as chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission during the Clinton administration, the panel includes noteworthy individuals serving from the county level to a federal court of appeals.
Those speaking include Norman H. Spahl, a senior federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the first circuit; Robert A. (Bob) Gammage, a retired justice on the supreme court of Texas; and Joseph E. Sollitto Jr., clerk of the courts and magistrate for the County of Dukes County.
The event, sponsored by the law firm of Tomassian and Tomassian of Edgartown, will be held tomorrow from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Old Whaling Church on Main street in Edgartown. Refreshments will be served afterward. The Center for Dispute Resolution suggests that patrons donate $25 each to attend.