Periodically, CPR showcases various members of our Distinguished Panel of Neutrals. Today, we continue our new feature, “Meet CPR’s Appellate Panel,” speaking with Judge James Eyler, of Eyler Dispute Resolution.
|Eyler has engaged in both court ordered and private mediation, arbitration and neutral evaluation since May 1, 2012. He was a member of the law firm of Miles & Stockbridge, PC from 1968 -1995, and Chairman of the firm from 1991 to January 8, 1996. He served as Judge, Court of Special Appeals (COSA), Maryland’s intermediate appellate court, from January 9, 1996 until retirement in May 1, 2012. Since that time, he continues to serve on the Court part time as a recalled judge.|
Eyler’s primary practice areas at Miles & Stockbridge, PC included torts, contracts, business disputes, appellate issues, mass torts, professional malpractice and commercial disputes. As an incumbent judge, he managed the Court’s prehearing conference program, including a mediation subprogram and conducted hundreds of conferences. Litigants may appeal as of right to the Court of Special Appeals. The Court’s jurisdiction extends to all cases appealed from trial courts with the exception of election law cases.
1. How did you get your start as a neutral?
While in practice from 1968-1995, I enjoyed settling cases because I found that settlement was usually better for the parties than a trial. In the early 90s, I became interested in ADR and took beginning and advanced courses. After appointment to Maryland’s intermediate appellate court at the end of 1995, I assumed the role of prehearing conference judge, in addition to regular opinion assignments. This meant that I had occasion to utilize various methods of dispute resolution prior to briefing and argument. Since retirement, I have spent the bulk of my time conducting mediation, arbitration, settlement conferences and neutral evaluation.
2. Were you ever the first to do something (e.g., in your law school class, your family, at your firm)?
I was the first in my family to go to college.
3. Do you have any general words of wisdom for parties entering into deals and contracts, when it comes to anticipating future disputes and the right to appeal?
Understandably, when negotiating contracts, parties focus on the substance of the deal and often do not pay enough attention to dispute resolution provisions.
4. What makes your style of conflict resolution in the appellate context unique? How is it different from dispute resolution, pre-appeal? Do you have a particular philosophy or approach?
Cases often have issues that cannot be raised on appeal. Alternative resolution provides an opportunity to resolve all issues. A unique aspect of cases on appeal is that the parties’ experience up to that point usually is a reminder that the court system is not perfect and “winning” is often unsatisfactory.
5. Describe the most difficult challenge you have faced as a neutral and how you approached its resolution.
One of the most difficult challenges is getting through to people who articulate a goal or interest but insist on conduct that is inconsistent with their own goal/interest.
6. What is your favorite part about being a CPR Distinguished Neutral?
A neutral gets more hugs than a judge or lawyer.
7. Which types of conflicts would you recommend for ADR and why?
Any conflict which the parties want to settle and, therefore, approach with interest. Cases with a long history of animosity, revenge, distrust and the like are difficult. Cases that turn on a pure legal question that has ramifications beyond the case are difficult.
8. What is the biggest mistake you see advocates make in an arbitration/mediation?
Treating it as traditional litigation.
9. How can parties help to ensure progress when they reach an impasse?
Just keep talking. An impasse at 9 a.m. often turns into a solution at 5 p.m.
10. If you could change one thing about commercial arbitration/mediation, what would it be?
No suggestions. In mediation, my approach is to be flexible and use any and all techniques that may work. All cases have similarities but also have differences. I attempt to adjust my approach to the case.
11. What do you see as the “next big thing” in global dispute prevention and resolution?
12. What in your view are the most unique and/or beneficial features of CPR’s Appellate Arbitration Procedure?
It provides an opportunity for correction in those infrequent cases in which the process goes awry.