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Judges act as mediators in serious criminal cases in this Kansas county

Posted Feb 4, 2014 7:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Criminal court judges in one Kansas county are resolving serious criminal cases by acting as mediators.

Judges who mediate the criminal cases in Shawnee Country District Court aren’t the judges assigned to the cases, and they don’t disclose what they learned in the mediation process, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports. During the mediation, prosecutors and defense lawyers seek agreement on the conviction and penalty, the story says.

Judge Cheryl Kingfisher of Topeka said she has mediated five serious cases, and two cases assigned to her division were mediated by other judges.

One homicide was resolved through mediation, as well as cases alleging aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, interference with an officer, child sexual abuse, drug possession and criminal damage to property. Mediation in the homicide case lasted for four hours.

"I think it's going very well," Kingfisher told the newspaper. "The goal of mediation is to bring as much justice as you can to as many people as you can."

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