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HOUSE BILL NO. 593
INTRODUCED BY H. HARPER, M. NOENNIG
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR CONFIDENTIALITY IN MEDIATION PROCEEDINGS; CREATING A MEDIATION PRIVILEGE FOR MEDIATORS AND PARTIES TO MEDIATION; AMENDING SECTIONS 40-4-303 AND 41-3-404, MCA; AND REPEALING SECTION 26-1-811, MCA.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Mediation -- confidentiality -- privilege -- exceptions. (1) Mediation means a private, confidential, informal dispute resolution process in which an impartial and neutral third person, the mediator, assists disputing parties to resolve their differences. In the mediation process, decisionmaking authority remains with the parties and the mediator does not have authority to compel a resolution or to render a judgment on any issue. A mediator may encourage and assist the parties to reach their own mutually acceptable settlement by facilitating an exchange of information between the parties, helping to clarify issues and interests, ensuring that relevant information is brought forth, and assisting the parties to voluntarily resolve their dispute.
(2) Except upon written agreement of the parties and the mediator, mediation proceedings must be:
(b) held without a verbatim record; and
(c) held in private.
(3) A mediator's files and records, with the exception of signed, written agreements, are closed to all persons unless the parties and the mediator mutually agree otherwise. Except as provided in subsection (5), all mediation-related communications, verbal or written, between the parties or from the parties to the mediator and any information and evidence presented to the mediator during the proceedings are confidential. The mediator's report, if any, and the information or recommendations contained in it, with the exception of a signed, written agreement, are not admissible as evidence in any action subsequently brought in any court of law or before any administrative agency and are not subject to discovery or subpoena in any court or administrative proceeding unless all parties waive the rights to confidentiality and privilege.
(4) Except as provided in subsection (5), the parties to the mediation and a mediator are not subject to subpoena by any court or administrative agency and may not be examined in any action as to any communication made during the course of the mediation proceeding without the consent of the parties to the mediation and the mediator.
(5) The confidentiality and privilege provisions of this section do not apply to information revealed in a mediation if disclosure is:
(a) required by any statute;
(b) agreed to by the parties and the mediator in writing, whether prior to, during, or subsequent to the mediation; or
(c) necessary to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the mediator in a controversy between a party to the mediation and the mediator.
(6) Nothing in this section prohibits a mediator from conveying information from one party to another during the mediation, unless a party objects to disclosure.
Section 2. Section 40-4-303, MCA, is amended to read:
"40-4-303. Proceedings -- records -- confidentiality. Mediation proceedings under this part are subject to the
confidentiality and privilege provisions of [section 1]. Mediation proceedings must be conducted in private unless
otherwise agreed to in writing by the parties and the mediator. All records of a mediation proceeding are confidential and
may not be used in evidence in an action enumerated in 40-4-301.
Matters subject to the mediation proceeding are
confidential. A mediator or a party and the parties to the a mediation is not subject under this part are entitled to compelled
disclosure of any part of the mediation proceeding the confidentiality and privilege provisions of [section 1]."
Section 3. Section 41-3-404, MCA, is amended to read:
"41-3-404. Adjudicatory hearing -- temporary disposition. (1) In the adjudicatory hearing on a petition under 41-3-401, the court shall determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the youth is a youth in need of care and ascertain, as far as possible, the cause.
(2) The court shall hear evidence regarding the residence of the youth, the whereabouts of the parents, guardian, or nearest adult relative, and any other matters the court considers relevant in determining the status of the youth.
(3) In all civil and criminal proceedings relating to abuse or neglect,
none of the privileges related to the examination or
treatment of the child and granted in Title 26, chapter 1, part 8 do not apply, except the attorney-client privilege granted by
26-1-803 and the mediator mediation privilege granted by 26-1-811, apply [section 1].
(4) (a) If the court determines that the youth is not an abused or neglected child, the petition must be dismissed and any order made pursuant to 41-3-403 must be vacated.
(b) If the youth is adjudicated a youth in need of care, the court shall set a date for a dispositional hearing to be conducted within 30 days and order any necessary or required investigations. The court may issue a temporary dispositional order pending the dispositional hearing. The temporary dispositional order may provide for any of the forms of relief listed in 41-3-403(3)."
Section 4. Repealer. Section 26-1-811, MCA, is repealed.
Section 5. Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 26, chapter 1, part 8, and the provisions of Title 26, chapter 1, part 8, apply to [section 1].
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Latest Version of HB 593 (HB0593.ENR)
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