Michael R. Moran, Esq., Director

Base

First Name

Michael

Last Name

Moran

Name

Michael R. Moran, Esq., Director

Business Name

Franklin County Probate Court Mediation Program

Address 1

373 South High Street

Address 2

22nd Floor

City

Columbus

State

OH

Zip code

43215

Primary Phone

614-525-3638

Secondary Phone

614-525-3894

Website

https://probate.franklincountyohio.gov/departments/mediation

Fax

614-525-4274

Advanced Information

Practice Description

Judge Montgomery created the Mediation Program in 2011, immediately following his election and taking office.  Our services are only offered to parties and litigants involved in a dispute arising from an active case pending in Franklin County Probate Court or before the Probate Judge, who may sit by assignment on other or related Common Pleas Court General Division cases.  The exception is that if the parties to a probate dispute in court have related litigation pending in another court, the parties may have a probate mediation conference at our Court and invite the other disputants in order to achieve a “global settlement” of all outstanding disputes.   We do not conduct pre-suit mediation at this time.  We do provide in-house dispute resolution services and consult with other courts or programs when asked.

The Probate Court’s Mediation Program typically uses the “facilitative” model for conducting mediations, which are mediated personally by the staff Director of Mediation, sometimes with co-mediation or referral to the Court’s contract mediator.  With facilitative mediation, the mediator(s) do not evaluate or give opinions about the validity of the parties’ positions but encourage collaboration. Instead the mediators’ focus is on assisting the parties in negotiations. Occasionally, when requested by the parties or as appropriate, the mediator(s) may shift styles and utilize the “evaluative” model of mediation. In that model the mediators expresses an opinion about the relative value of a proposal or position, or may take a more active role in developing a settlement proposal for the parties.  For example, this approach might work when there are not any nonlawyers present, the mediation parties are all lawyers or institutional representatives and the only issues are economic.

During mediation all participants have a chance to be heard. Areas of disagreement are discussed one at a time. Various solutions are explored. The mediator may help participants develop options to resolve the issues. All decisions, including whether or not to settle and make a final agreement is made by the parties themselves.  If you have a pending case or will have a pending case in Probate Court and wish to explore mediation, please call or e-mail us.  Our mediation services are offered at no cost to the parties and are paid by the Court.  You can learn more by visiting our web site and reviewing Local Rule 16, Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Background

The Court uses both a court employee and a contracted private mediator to assist in the administration of the Program.  The Director has over 25 years of trial and appellate experience in criminal, civil and administrative law, including handling major personal injury and wrongful death claims for plaintiffs.  These years include judicial and quasi-judicial experience as a Magistrate, Special Master Commissioner, Administrative Law Hearing Examiner / ALJ / Hearing Officer, and as a judicial attorney serving as Chief Counsel to a Judge.  He has been mediating professionally since 1995 after studying ADR since the 1980s.  His private probate experience included serving as the special administrator of an estate and as guardian of the person of an indigent ward for 15 years.  He has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Paralegal Program at Capital University Law School.  Over his career, he has also been a continuing legal education (CLE) instructor and trained judges, magistrates, attorneys, prosecutors, and mediators on tropics including probate mediation, mediator safety and security, white collar crime, and litigation.  He has over 20 years experience as a part-time criminal court prosecutor and maintains a niche private practice of law.  Initially, his professional mediation experience was as a mediator for the Settlement Week Program for the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, General Division, where he mediated personal injury and commercial disputes.

He is an experienced public administrator, having headed government offices and agencies at the state, county, city and village level.  He is a retired Colonel from the Ohio Military Reserve, serving as a military lawyer. His legal career honors include being rated an “Ohio Super Lawyer – Rising Star,” a Million Dollar Advocate, listed by Columbus CEO Magazine as a “Top Lawyer,” and holding a current rating of 10/10 (Superb) by AVVO.  He has served as the first Director of Mediation at the Franklin County Probate Court, creating the first full-time court-annexed mediation program at a probate court in the state of Ohio in 2011. As a trained crisis interventionist and Chief Bailiff for the Court, he regularly interacts with and de-escalates litigants, witnesses, wards of the court, as well as respondents from civil mental illness cases handled by the court.  He has consulted with other courts on dispute resolution matters and published in legal journals on probate mediation.

Since inception and as of 2020, the Mediation Program has handled over 250 mediations, primarily of complex, high-conflict family disputes, with a 60-80% settlement rate annually.  Case types mediated include:   large estate disputes involving money and property, trust disputes, civil matters, breaches of fiduciary duty, asset concealment, bond claims, insurance matters, declaratory judgment actions, contract interpretation, attorneys fees, guardianship disputes, disputes involving public officials, adoption, disposition of remains cases, tort cases including multi-million dollar wrongful death settlements, and matters involving disabled indigent child custody for wards of the Court.

Sandra Mendel Furman, Esq. is the Court’s lead contract mediator and has over 40 years of legal experience and over 20 as a full-time neutral.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve the public at the Court with professional peacemaking, where we facilitate deals which frequently end protracted litigation.

Education / Training

Originally recruited as an intercollegiate debater, the Director earned a performance-based Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree majoring in speech from Marietta College, where he completed skills coursework in facilitation, listening, interviewing, persuasion, oral interpretation and argumentation, plus advanced study and research on rhetoric, non-verbal communication, organizational leadership, psychology, and conflict resolution.  He graduated with a minor degree in History, an Oral Communication Certificate with distinction and a Leadership Development Institute Certificate, all from Marietta College in 1990.  He earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree in 1994 from Capital University Law School, where he was further trained in dispute resolution and mediation by Prof. Roberta Mitchell and was then inducted into Phi Delta Phi, the oldest international legal honor society.

Subsequent to law school, he has completed basic mediation training from the Columbus Bar Association, the Franklin County Common Pleas Court – Domestic Relations Division & Juvenile Branch, plus basic and advanced mediation training from the Supreme Court of Ohio, and advanced and in-service mediation training from the Ohio Mediation Association and the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR).  He graduated from the inaugural Elder Mediation Training and the Eldercaring Coordination Training presented by the ACR and the Supreme Court of Ohio.  He has also completed the very first ACR Eldercaring Train-the-Trainer course.  He is a graduate of the extensive Ohio Army National Guard Facilitator Training Course.

He has completed Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training from the Delaware/Morrow Mental Health & Recovery Services Board and Delaware County Criminal Justice Association.  He also completed the Corrections Crisis Intervention Instructor course at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.  He has training from many organizations including Vistelar and the Ohio Judicial College in techniques of “verbal judo,” “tactical communication” and non/de-escalation techniques.  He has served as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and trainer on these topics for the Judicial College’s Court Security Officer training.  He has also completed significant training in learner-centered teaching for adults, including rubric and course development, instructional design and instructional skills.  He is a certified law enforcement and private security instructor for multiple firearms and less-lethal weapons systems, as well as officer safety and survival tactics.  He has spent over 30 years training police, probation officers, private security and investigation, bailiffs and other criminal justice personnel in the finer points of human relations, dispute resolution, protective intelligence, de-escalation and communication skills.

Professional Association Memberships

Ohio Mediation AssociationAssociation for Conflict Resolution; District of Columbia Bar Association; Agency CIT Coordinator, Ohio CIT Program; Ohio Bailiffs & Court Officers AssociationOhio Tactical Officers AssociationMillion Dollar Advocates Forum; CFE, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners; International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors; Life Member, General Counsel Emeritus, Ohio Association of Security & Investigation Services; Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity; Pi Kappa Delta Honorary.