California’s Top 50 Neutrals & 10 Rising Stars
Daily Journal, October 16, 2013
By Pat Broderick
Fields recently mediate a dispute that she said constituted “a perfect storm” of raw emotions and thorny legal issues. The case involved several troubled children enrolled at a nonprofit school that serves students with severe behavioral problems, and who are separated from their parents.
Each of them was alleging sexual assault claims against the school by its non-teaching employees. ‘The water got so muddy,” Fields said. “I was not really sure that some of these acts took place and I was convinced some did. These kids go to this school because they are troubled children.”
Fields received permission from the guardians and their counsel to speak with each of the children alone. “I wanted to do my own fact finding,” she added. “I wanted to see if I could come up with my own assessment outside of all of the mudslinging that was going on to separate the personal agendas of the non-parental guardians.”
Fields came away with mixed thoughts about what the evidence may or may not show in trial, she said. “This one kid, in particular, I thought presented himself really well,” she added. “I thought he was honest with me. The other two were embellishing as the day went on. I didn’t think some of the things they told me happened.”
Fields said that she always tries to dig beneath the surface, noting that, “People are in their own prism. I am on the outside looking in on that prism. They are convinced of their reality and it’s not for me to change it. It’s for me to enlighten them on their perspective.”
Ultimately, for the sake of protecting the reputation of the school, as well as having the children move forward, the parties agreed to settle.