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Wake County's 'People's Court' Can Be Stranger Than Fiction

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Mediation Sign
RALEIGH, N.C. — Most people have seen the "People's Court" on television, but you do not have to be on TV to get justice. Wake County has its own "People's Court" where real life can be stranger than fiction.

Wake County District Court Judge Michael Morgan said feuding parties come to the court after one person takes out a warrant against another.

"There's been no arrest made. It's one person's word against another's in terms of whether or not there's been some criminal activity," Morgan said.

In most of the cases, emotions run high. Some of the cases involve a she-said/she-said between a pastor's wife and a church member after a Sunday service, love triangles, even a feud between a man and a boy over the boy's wandering cat where a neighbor got involved.

Morgan said most of the cases should not wind up in a courtroom.

"Those shows being on TV have an entertainment value that skews the expectations of people to come to court first as opposed to first trying to solve their differences on their own," he said.

An alternative to court involves mediation. It is cheaper and keeps the state out of your personal business.

"A lot of times people just need to talk things out and they don't know how to do it. By being able to sit them down with trained mediators, they're able to tell their side of the story and be heard," Assistant District Attorney Stormy Ellis said.

"There's no way a judge can tell you what to do that's going to make you happier than coming to a resolution with that person yourself," mediator Diann Seigle said.

Mediators are in the courtroom so that feuding parties can try to resolve differences before they go to trial. Mediation costs the parties $60 versus $100 for going to court. It costs the state nothing versus a trial, which can cost $300 or more.


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