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October 2020
By: Theodore A. Deckert, Esq.


I am again honored to write the ADR Corner article for October.  October is special to me because it is recognized worldwide as “Conflict Resolution Month”, the third Thursday (15th) is “Conflict Resolution Day” and the third week (11-17th) is designated by the American Bar Association as Mediation Week.

I first want to highlight our ADR Committee’s activities promoting ADR in our community.  Covid 19 has made this October very different.  As I write in August I don’t know what our world will be like when you read in October.  I do know the ABA Theme for Mediation Week this year is “Mediation and its role in expanding access to justice during and after a pandemic.”  The Committee had to cancel our school essay contest. We are still planning a noon seminar “virtually” on October 15th, with Elder Mediation the topic and Alice Reiter Feld, a recognized advocate for seniors and their families, the speaker.  The Committee has again arranged for Mediation Week proclamations by the County Commission, School Board, and many municipalities. For more about the work of our ADR committee throughout the year, go to

Two years ago the ABA declared the 2018 Mediation Week theme as “Mediation, Civil Discourse, and ABA 2011 Resolution 108”.  It reminded us then of our responsibility as lawyers to address the toxic environment of political and social discourse in our country which has only continued to deteriorate over the last decade.  Because of the Pandemic and other events this spring, the consequences of political divisiveness and long standing racial and economic disparities in our country can no longer be ignored.

Crisis presents opportunity.  So many protests nationwide compel us to look more closely at the issues and strive to better understand how “others” live in our country. Personally, I found our Bar Association’s “21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge” online summer program eye-opening. I urge anyone who has not done it to go to  and do so. I was saddened and embarrassed to learn the many ways our legal system has been used to preserve privilege for some and oppress others.  The ABA Mediation Week theme this year is a recognition of our responsibility as lawyers to address the disparities in our justice systems. With this in mind, I offer my personal thoughts.

Our country was founded upon a declaration “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  The founders declared that that government should “secure these rights” for ALL to “effect their Safety and Happiness.” (Excerpts from The Declaration of Independence)

The confluence of a Pandemic, economic and political systems that have caused a wide disparity between the “haves” and “have-nots” and a partisan system of government no longer able to govern for the “Safety and Happiness” of ALL it’s people has vividly demonstrated that our country is far from achieving that goal.  I personally feel we are at a major “tipping point” for whether or not it will ever be achieved in our country.

In my opinion, our legal system has contributed to this crisis by failing to be the “check” our founders intended in our form of democracy.  Just as our system too slowly recognized that the rights stated in the Declaration are not limited solely to “men,” our legal system has unfortunately been complicit in perpetuating and increasing the disparities among the lives of Americans.  See the “21 Day Challenge” for specific examples.

I hope as lawyers we can be better leaders and get our country back on course. We must promote and elect political leaders who understand their job is to govern for the “Safety and Happiness” of ALL people, regardless of color, origin, gender or any of the other “differences” that make each of us unique.  We must remember the “Rule of Law” is to ensure a just and fair society, not a tool of control and oppression, and be more mindful of our duty to society as well as to our clients.  We must find ways to overcome how technology has corrupted rather than enhanced communication and discourse and enabled the election of people who lack the values and abilities necessary to do the difficult job of governing for ALL people in today’s world.

I urge everyone who reads this to do several simple things. First, do The 21 Day Challenge if you have not already done so. Most importantly, VOTE IN PERSON and VOTE EARLY. Encourage and help others to do so also and help good qualified leaders get elected. If our country is to achieve the noble goal of our founders, we must elect leaders who have demonstrated the values and abilities they need to lead us to achieving that goal.

I believe our country’s GREATNESS is not measured by its stock prices, GNP or wealth.  It is measured by the “Safety and Happiness” of ALL its people.  Unless lawyers and judges do our part better, I fear our country will not achieve TRUE GREATNESS. I hope it will.

Theodore A. Deckert, Esq. is a Past Chair of the Palm Beach County Bar Association ADR Committee and a Past President of The Florida Academy of Professional Mediators. He has been a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil & Family Mediator since 2000 and he has been a full time Mediator and Third Party Neutral affiliated with Matrix Mediation LLC since 2008.  Prior to becoming a full time mediator, he was a civil trial attorney since 1976 and a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer for 25 years.  He has helped thousands of people resolve virtually every type of civil dispute.  For more information email him at  or go to