What Are Private Judging & Settlement Conferences?

Private Judging and Settlement Conferences in family law cases are alternatives to the Superior Court process and better meet the needs of parties in some cases. In Private Judging the parties select Trish Nugent to make decisions regarding all or some of the issues in their case. The decision made by the Private Judge has the same force and weight as that of a Superior Court Judge. The parties may also select her to conduct a private Settlement Conference with both parties and Attorneys present. A Settlement Conference is similar to a mediation process with Attorneys present.

The Benefits of Private Judging & Settlement Conferences:

The trial, hearing or settlement conference can be set at the convenience of the parties and their Attorneys. This is a financial benefit as well as a scheduling one since Attorneys sometimes prepare at length for a Superior Court case only to have to come back months later because of a continuance. 

"I appreciated the opportunity to discuss
and negotiate under circumstances that
were far less intimidating than I imagine
sitting in court with a judge
would have been." - S.H.

Short hearings, emergency orders and discovery matters can be handled quickly and informally, saving worry and money. Often, these can be done by telephone. Again, this is a great cost savings.

The process can be tailored to the individual situation in various ways, such as:

  • How formal or informal it will be.
  • Whether or not the decision will be binding, i.e., the decision is final with no right to appeal.
  • Set dates and times at your convenience.
  • What the scope and design of discovery will be.
  • A settlement conference with a highly experienced Family Law Attorney may end up in settlement, saving thousands of dollars in Attorney's fees.

Which Cases Are Best Suited for Private Judging or Settlement Conferencing? 

The cases best suited for Private Judging are those involving:

  • Parties desiring a prompt trial or hearing or resolution by a settlement conference.
  • Parties wishing more control over the process used to resolve their disputes.
  • Parties wishing an informal setting.
  • Parties and Attorneys desiring to benefit by the scheduling of set dates.
  • Parties interested in cost efficient resolution.
  • Parties interested in settlement.

Frequently Asked Questions About Judging and Settlement Conferences:

Where does the trial or hearing take place? 

Either at Trish Nugent's office, your Attorneys' offices, the offices of a local court reporting service, or another setting as agreed by you. 

How much will private judging or a settlement conference cost? 

Private Judging and Settlement Conference services are charged on an hourly basis and the cost is shared by the parties, either as agreed or as ordered by me. Please call Trish Nugent or her assistant to get her current hourly rate.

What is your experience in this area? 

I have conducted over 25 private trials, hearings and settlement conferences in family law in a wide variety of settings. Cases have been as informal as personal property arbitration and as complex as five-day trials.