Memphis Bar Association
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David Wade
Martin Tate Morrow & Marston
6410 Poplar Avenue, Suite 1000
Memphis, TN 38119

Could Billy The Kid & Sheriff Pat Garrett Have Settled Their Differences Under RULE 31?

By David Wade

Published in the Sept/Oct 2006 edition of Memphis Lawyer magazine

     William H. Bonney was a left-handed hothead with communications skills limited to throwing lead at whomsoever he reckoned had sassed him.  Steely-eyed Pat Garrett took seriously his sheriff’s oath in Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory, and gunned Billy down with his six-shooter.   You might say putting the two of them together in the same room with a mediator would have produced the same result history records for them: either Billy or Pat would be plugged dead and, unless able to duck fast, probably the mediator, too.  But, then again, the result may have been different in modern times.
In the old days, common folklore called lawyers “hired guns” and the ranchers sent out the call for the toughest hombre with the fastest draw in the territory to win their legal tussles against the homesteaders.  Of course, it cost more than a few gold double eagles to pay Mr. Tough Guy to face off against the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday behind the OK Corral in Tombstone. Thank goodness, somewhere along the trail a lonesome cowpoke in a white hat figured out that litigation should be about dispute resolution and not about killing.    So, all you old hired guns and young whippersnappers: oil your Colt 45’s and put them away (but don’t toss them out just yet); civilization has come to town.   The court has ordered you to mediate.
      Statistics from the American College of Trial Lawyers show a substantial decline in the number of jury cases tried in the United States, a trend attributed primarily to successful mediation. 
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Valuable Resources for Tennessee Mediators:
Tennessee Association for Professional Mediators 

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