WISCONSIN ASSOCIATION OF MEDIATORS PRESS RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 23, 2009
Senator Taylor's Mortgage Foreclosure Bill SB 255
Given the current home foreclosure crises that all states are experiencing, something like Senator Lena
Taylor's mortgage foreclosure bill is sorely needed for Wisconsin. We are particularly pleased that it
emphasizes the role that mediation can play in resolving mortgage foreclosure disputes, particularly
when a number of options are available and the parties are voluntarily willing to collaborate on an
outcome that may result in the homeowner being able to remain in their home, or to negotiate other
outcomes that are not as destructive to a family as eviction can be. While we closely study Senator
Taylor's bill, the Wisconsin Association of Mediators will not take a position until we have had an
opportunity to discuss the bill with our membership largely comprised of active mediators.
Nevertheless, we have a number of questions about the bill, such as whether or not it sufficiently
protects the confidentiality of the mediation process and mediator privilege as distinct from a judicial
process when "good faith" and other exceptions to confidentiality are raised by the bill when the
mediator is asked to provide an affidavit describing party behavior.
Another question arises as to what the credentials of the mediators involved should be.
Some of our WAM members are currently either involved in or helping to develop county circuit court
mortgage foreclosure initiatives; would this bill allow for such local options to continue, particularly
those where foreclosure mediations are already taking place, such as in Milwaukee and Iowa Counties,
and where other counties, such as Dane County, are currently considering a local rule emphasizing
mediation, and where local institutions including the county bar association are preparing to offer
Aside from definitional questions, such as whether missing two mortgage payments is the only trigger
for default, is the bill too narrowly focused on the mortgage, and are the timelines and procedural steps
calibrated in a way that will unnecessarily complicate the process and result in inadvertent mistakes that
will prevent mediation from otherwise occurring between willing parties?
Given the urgency of the foreclosure crisis, are there other venues, such as the Farm Mediation Project
at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, that have existing
administrative structure in place with a roster of mediators and frequent mediator trainings, that should
be considered for program administration?
We look forward in the coming months to working with Senator Taylor on this bill, particularly as
hearings are scheduled and other interest groups offer their opinions.
For further information contact Katherine Bogdanoff or Cathy Warmington, Co-Presidents of the
Wisconsin Association of Mediators, email@example.com