Promoting Informed Use and Best Practices for ADR in Washington
I just got my third call asking if I wanted a case. Here's a very loose paraphrase of the conversation:
"Want a case in King County?" the pleasant Commerce Department staffer asks.
"Uh, sure," I answer.
"Okay, we'll send it to you."
"Hey, question for you: I haven't seen anything on the second call I got two weeks ago. When should I expect it?"
"It can take two-three weeks to get the letter to you. If it's longer than that give us a call."
"Okey-doke. Looking forward to seeing them both - bye."
This wasn't a question on the first case. I got the referral letter within a couple days of the call. But that was probably one of the first cases to go out.
No question the good folks at Commerce are doing all they can to get all these gajillion letters out as quickly as possible.
Yet now that we've got 2-3 weeks between call and letter, instead of just a couple days, I've been getting questions from other mediators about when the clock starts ticking for us to set the mediation.
The statute says we are to convene the mediation within 45 days of receiving the referral from Commerce. Section 7(4)(a).
Query what the referral is. I don't see the "will you take a case?" call as a referral. It has no information other than county. No names to do a conflicts check. No addresses to send notices. No phone numbers, faxes or emails to communicate at all.
I see the referral as the letter which has all this information. So I see the 45 days running when I get the referral letter.Anyone else having this or similar experiences? Or think the 45 days runs from the call? Other thoughts?
I agree that it runs from receiving the letter, and I believe that's how the DRCs are operating.
Also, if conflicts are an issue (as they are for me), just ask the person who calls to tell you the names of the parties up front, then you can do your conflict check and call back to accept or reject the case. The first one I got turned out to be a conflict, and when I called back to say so, I immediately got another assignment. So that worked for everyone.
Having heard about the delay between the phone call and the letter, I asked about it, and was told the letter should go out the next day. It may depend on who called you. I was told that Commerce now has 12 people assigning cases, mostly staff from other divisions who are helping out a few hours a day.
Same issues here. I have schedueled my first but have yet to recieve the letters on two and three.
Just got my first call yesterday. Similar tone:
Am I willing? can I meet the 45 day time limit?
The guy said he was new.
Asked him how the program was going so far. He didn't know the results of mediations; but said foreclosures have slowed down as a result of the new law
Told him I volunteer with Kitsap DRC & he said he'd copy the referral letter to them. He said the 45 days start when they send out the referral letter
Checked in with Kitsap DRC. When they get the referral letter, they send out info to the participants, handle scheduling & assign a co-mediator & observers.
On a side note, used the info obtained at the training to help a client file a loan modification request. Bank (Chase) responded within 30 days, assigned a a rep who says she will be our contact throughout the process & says the application looks good - even helped suggest revisions to the hardship letter
We confirmed with Commerce that the 45 days starts to run from the day you physically receive the mailed letter. Our DRC has about 10 referrals to our mediators so far.
The bigger issue is getting in touch with the beneficiaries. We are sending an introductory letter as soon as we receive the referral letter asking for our agreement to mediate, the waiver and fee within two weeks. We then follow-up with phone calls. Often, the party representing the beneficiaries is different from the referral letter contacts so there is a delay on the response. We are starting to get returns however and have scheduled our first two mediations for later this month.
Jeff: What I have heard is the clock starts ticking on the date you receive the letter. That may be different for you attorney/judge mediators, however for the DRC folks, that is what we have been told. The clock starts ticking for DRC referred cases when the DRC receives the letter.
I just received a call for a second case. They DOC person (very pleasant) said it would be 2-3 weeks for the letter to be sent/received.
Thanks for bringing this up, Jeff.
We've been working hard to clarify things and it seems like more clarifcation may be needed.
Your assumption is correct. The clock starts the day the letter is received. The call is not the official referral.
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I have been away from the office.
Jeff and other mediators,
Commerce has told us (at DRC's) that when we get the hard copy and date stamp it, that is Day one of 45. We are now also getting referral letters via email. Until their database is broken, we set day when upon receipt of the Referral.
Hope that helps.
So since I wrote this, it keeps getting more interesting! Some of the posts here distinguish between the emailed letter and its hardcopy version.
The first case I got the referral letter via email one day and the hardcopy a couple days later. But now I have two cases pending where it's 7-10 days past the email and still no hardcopy.
So Commerce is saying the referral is dated from receipt of the hardcopy. In one of my cases the 45-day period will end some 60 days after I get the emailed letter and 90+ after first getting the call.
The official word here at Commerce is that the 45 dayclock starts from the date you receive the physical, mailed hardcopy of the referral.
Not the email.
Commerce is now telling me the clock starts when I receive the letter in the mail. The problem I see is that the letter is dated 2 weeks before I get it, so it looks like I late. If the trustee is counting out 45 days then the only date they have is the date of the letter as they don't know when I get it. One of my referral letter took 3 weeks to arrive. I worry that a trustee will think that the seven days have passed since the end of the 45 day period and go ahead with the foreclosure. Should I worry?