A local attorney and mediator who is seeking a seat on the Hamilton County Commission is strenuously denying charges that he misled both his clients and potential voters.
Jim Fields, who defeated incumbent Richard Casavant in the Republican primary in May, says on his campaign website that his professional background includes:
* Rule 31 Listed General Civil Mediation
* Rule 31 Listed Family Mediation with Domestic Violence Training
Fields did receive such training in 2004, but allowed his certification to lapse last year. Nevertheless, on the website of Fields and Moss, the law firm owned and operated by the candidate and his brother-in-law, David Moss, he still claims qualifications in the two Rule 31 categories.
Mr. Fields sees nothing wrong with that entry.
“The (campaign) website is not misleading,” he said, because it “lists under ‘Additional Training’ that I have been trained as a Rule 31-listed civil and family mediator, which I have . . . As for the firm website, it has not been updated in several years. If we are contacted to perform a Rule 31 mediation, we decline.”
That’s flat wrong, according to others in the profession.
“The word ‘listed’ is the key,” explained one mediator who is included in the Tennessee Supreme Court directory. “If I had let my listing slide, I might have put that I had Rule 31 training but I would not have used that word ‘listed.’ Probably it would have been best just to put ‘mediator training.’ ”
Mediators are not required to have Rule 31 or other special training, the individual noted, “but when you start throwing Rule 31 around it means something.”
According to the Tennessee Supreme Court – where the Administrative Office of the Courts polices Rule 31 mediation in the state – anyone claiming Rule 31 training must inform all parties of their correct “qualifications and experience” before beginning the mediation process.
The court includes dozens of Hamilton County residents on its database of Rule 31 mediators throughout the state.
Neither Mr. Fields nor his brother-in-law and law partner are listed.
Mr. Fields’ entire written response to the charges reads as follows:
In response to your question, the website is not misleading. The website lists under "Additional Training" that I have been trained as a Rule 31 Listed Civil and Family Mediator which I have. In order to obtain that listing which I did, I participated in over 80 hours of training. I am not currently listed because I have not renewed my listing. The campaign website is listing my experience not my current status as indicated by the tab "Experience."
As for the firm website, it has not been updated in several years. If we are contacted to perform a Rule 31 mediation, we decline. I am still a trained mediator and participate in mediation. I do not when it is a Court referral because of the Rule 31 designation.