Federal Court Mediation Study

Last registered on August 14, 2017


Trial Information

General Information

Federal Court Mediation Study
Initial registration date
August 14, 2017

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
August 14, 2017, 4:56 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Harvard Law School

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Despite the centrality of court adjudication to the rule of law, and of court-connected mediation programs to court adjudication, there has never been a well-executed and exhaustive study of mediation’s costs and benefits. This randomized control trial (“RCT”) of a court-connected mediation program, has taken place in an environment unusually hostile to evidence-based thinking, namely, the United States federal court system. Multiple outcome variables directly relevant to mediation’s alleged justifications will be measured. The RCT is critical to a resource allocation dispute ongoing within the federal judiciary, which has indicated its desire for more such evidence, and it will serve as a model for court systems in the United States and abroad.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Greiner, James. 2017. "Federal Court Mediation Study." AEA RCT Registry. August 14. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2060-1.0
Former Citation
Greiner, James. 2017. "Federal Court Mediation Study." AEA RCT Registry. August 14. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2060/history/20399
Experimental Details


A trial court order mandating a pre-discovery mediation session between an inmate civil rights plaintiff in a Nevada federal court lawsuit versus an order encouraging the parties to engage in informal settlement negotiations on their own.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
plaintiff recovery; reduced expenditure of court resources; reduced expenditure of party resources; increased party satisfaction with the adjudicatory process; increased party satisfaction with the adjudicatory result; an improved party post-dispute relationship
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
if possible, additional post-dispute relationship to be measured by frequency, dates, and severity of so-called inmate “grievance” filings (administrative filings in which inmates complain of mistreatment)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The units in the Study are civil rights cases filed against Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) officials in Nevada federal court by inmates incarcerated within the NDOC system. The treatment was an order mandating a half-day mediation session conducted by a court-trained volunteer attorney. Each session was evaluative, broad in focus, caucused, and mandatory (i.e., the federal court entered an order compelling the parties to participate).

In control group cases, no mediation session was held; instead, the federal court issued an order encouraging the parties to engage in informal settlement discussions on their own.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
By computer
Randomization Unit
Court cases
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
353 cases
Sample size: planned number of observations
353 cases
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
177 cases in the control group
176 cases in the treatment group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
A randomized evaluation of District of Nevada inmate early mediation program
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials