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When it comes to a person's diary or their personal private journal, the truth is that these are rarely going to be considered confidential in a court of law. A person seeking emotional distress damages in a lawsuit, or embroiled in a nasty custody dispute or divorce, may be required to turn over their personal diary.

Diaries are, however, private as opposed to confidential. Barring extraordinary circumstances, diaries cannot be published or broadcast without permission.

While it is no surprise that most lawsuits settle without ever going to trial, many non-lawyers are surprised by how effective formal mediation can be at resolving legal disputes. Alternative dispute resolution has emerged over the past few decades as a successful tool to resolve legal disputes, often more quickly than going through a trial. Unlike a judge's order, or jury's verdict, settlement agreements can also provide for forms of relief that can't be awarded by a court. Among the most requested non-court awardable relief is a simple apology.

The goal of any mediation session is to reach a settlement. One of the most effective ways to reach a settlement during mediation is to allow parties to interact, with help from their lawyers, to try to find middle ground, and allowing those interactions to be off the record, so to speak. Requiring mediation to be confidential allows the parties to more meaningfully interact and explore potential resolutions that might be satisfactory to all involved without fear that settlement offers or proposal will be used against them. Mediation confidentiality is designed to facilitate and encourage the exchange of settlement offers. So how does it work in practice?

Over the last few decades, most courts have begun requiring parties to attempt mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), at various stages in the litigation process. The mediation process is very effective at resolving disputes as it forces the parties to realistically evaluate their positions, then, weigh that against the risk of success.

So if mediation talks break down or one party wants out, what happens next? Below you'll find some important information on what to do after a mediation session fails.

Being the victim of theft is an awful experience. On top of having something literally taken away, a victim can often be left feeling traumatized. Typically, when a person is robbed, or discovers something has been stolen from them, contacting the police is the first step.

If you know the perpetrator, depending on the specific facts of the situation, you may not want to involve police. However, failing to involve the police will put you at a serious disadvantage when it comes to recovering your stolen money or property. Although you can pursue a civil action against the thief for the return of your property, a criminal action can be resolved much quicker, and net the same result at no expense to you.

It's not easy for a private citizen to sue a federal employee for a civil rights violation. If there's no statute to allow the lawsuit, then historically you couldn't bring your case. That's where the so-called Bivens claim becomes important.

A Bivens claim is a special type of 'implied cause of action' that was created by the Supreme Court, in the Bivens case, to allow private individuals to sue federal employees for constitutional violations when no statute has authorized such. Bivens claims are also sometimes referred to as constitutional torts.

Normally, when a person suffers a violation of their constitutional or civil rights, particularly in the context of police, prison, immigration enforcement, officer misconduct, there are usually legal remedies. However, when these types of constitutional violation stem from the actions of a federal agent, appointee, officer, or employee, victims often find that many of the typical remedies will not be available.

Most government agencies are tasked with enforcing laws and statutes. These agencies and their enforcement missions can encompass everything from your local police enforcing municipal ordinances to federal agencies prosecuting violations of enacted statutes. Because these federal agencies have a nationwide reach, their enforcement actions, or lack thereof, can often garner more attention and scrutiny.

So what happens if they fail to do their job? Do regular folks have any legal recourse against a federal agency for not enforcing certain laws? Here's a look.

Suing government officials and employees is not always possible, and when it is, it's more difficult than most people expect. Whether you have a civil rights case against a law enforcement officer for excessive force, or a postal carrier rear ended you, to simply achieve a legal resolution, there are several barriers to overcome to get justice from the government, even for government employees.

One of the biggest hurdles to getting justice from the federal, state or local government, or an employee, or official, is the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity. This legal doctrine basically states that the government (the sovereign) is immune from liability (can't be held accountable in court). However, while immunity is an actual thing, under limited circumstances, the government cannot claim sovereign immunity to escape liability. This session of the United States Supreme Court is expected to provide more insights as to when immunity defenses will apply to police officers and federal agents that are being sued for civil rights violations.

A former San Diego high school student recently won a $1.25 million dollar jury verdict as a result of her lawsuit against her former school resulting from being forced to pee in a bucket in a supply closet. The lawsuit alleged that the embarrassing incident, which was caused by a faculty member, led to extreme bullying, eventually causing the student to suffer PTSD, attempt suicide, and incur other damages.

The large jury verdict came after the school rejected the initial settlement demand of only $25,000. Currently, the school is considering whether to appeal the verdict.

The stereotype is deeply embedded in our minds and media when it comes to jury trials: the jurors sit passively, perhaps nodding or even crying in response, as the attorneys, witnesses, and judges battle before them, then retire to a room to argue about a defendant's freedom or the fate of millions of dollars. They are instructed to decide the case based only on what they have seen and heard in the courtroom, but have little or no input on the evidence.

But that might be starting to change. More and more jury reform advocates -- judges among them -- have been pushing for more juror freedom when it comes to asking questions during trial. Could we be witnessing the end to the static, silent jury and see more juror involvement during the course of the trial?

Undocumented immigrants beware: sanctuary cities are not all they are reported to be, and a certain elected official wants to do away with them. For undocumented immigrants that live in sanctuary cities, the next presidential term will require staying aware of whether Donald Trump follows through on the threatened consequences for cities and counties that continue to provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. Many cities have vowed to protect their populations, but what does that even mean?

The reason many people have a problem with there being sanctuary cities across the country is the incorrect belief that the cities provide a safe haven for criminals. In reality, in a sanctuary city, an undocumented immigrant will be pursued for any criminal act(s) they commit, except for merely being undocumented. Sanctuary cities generally only promise or have a policy not to follow orders from the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency regarding holding individuals without other criminal charges for deportation.