Hungry? Try settling your case

If you’re going to a settlement conference before soon-to-be U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson, make sure you eat something before it starts.

Coulson will be replacing U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey when she steps down next month. Coulson told me last week Gauvey “was very generous with her time” throughout the application process. (Gauvey, for her part, said Coulson would make a “terrific” magistrate.)

Coulson added that of all the magistrates he’s appeared before in U.S. District Court, he’s had the most interactions in his cases with Gauvey.

“I’m not sure I ever appeared in a settlement conference where the case did not settle,” he said. “That speaks to the job she did.”

One reason why the cases settled was that, according to Coulson, Gauvey never took lunch breaks.

When I asked Gauvey about this, she laughed and joked she would neither confirm or deny her settlement conference strategy. But she also told the story of how she once left a mediation session before it even started because neither side had done what she had requested they do prior to the meeting.

If the mediator shows the drive to be productive and to reach a solution, she said, the enthusiasm can be contagious.

“The point of mediation is you are committed to the resolution of a case,” she said. “And if [lawyers on both sides] are running with you, you’ll do whatever you can resolve the case.”

And, perhaps, get some lunch.

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