As the debt-ceiling showdown dragged on in Washington, I wondered how Judge Arthur Perivolidis would have handled it.
Perivolidis, the longest-serving judge in the Cook County court system, mediates disputes in the system's Probate Division. Arguments over such things as inheritances and trusts, some of which have dragged on and on elsewhere in the court system, are referred to him. He has a better than 90 percent record of getting them settled.
Some of the participants are so bitter toward each other that they would make the Tea Party and the Democrats look like drinking buddies. But Perivolidis winds up getting them to sign on the dotted line.
How? I checked with my sister, Teresa Frisbie, a lawyer who is director of Loyola University Chicago School of Law's Dispute Resolution Program and also mediates these types of cases. She has observed his technique, and it doesn't follow the usual mold. Mediators are taught to get the participants talking, but in Perivolidis' mediation conference room, he supplies most of the chitchat. The surprising result? He has such a warm personality, that he makes it work.
So I put the question to him today: How long would it have taken him to settle the debt-ceiling showdown?
He admitted it would have been one of his tougher assignments. As for his estimate? Chuckling, he answered: eight or nine hours.
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