LAWRENCE – Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez today announced the Independent Assessment Conference (IAC) as the name for her office’s criminal mediation initiative, clarifying the IAC’s role in promoting victims’ rights and interests while upholding offender accountability.
“Simply calling the program ‘mediation’ is a misleading moniker,” Valdez said. “The Independent Assessment Conference is a formal and voluntary practice overseen by a retired judge in which the typical court process is condensed using the assistance of an experienced and skilled mediator, who is trained in trauma-informed practice. A fundamental aspect of the IAC is the empowerment of victims through their active engagement in the plea negotiation process.”
Retired Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty has facilitated the IAC since the initiative began in October 2021. Under the IAC, the judge seeks out collateral information from all parties, including victims, in an effort to gain a greater understanding of the overall facts giving rise to the alleged criminal incident rather than simply trying to broker a deal, Valdez said.
Meeting with the facilitator one-on-one also can be beneficial to both the defense and prosecution as each can learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of their cases.
“Potentially, the IAC can bring resolution without a lengthy wait, costly trial or the overall uncertainty that comes with a trial,” Valdez said. “The IAC itself is not a resolution, but it can assist the parties in resolving a matter short of protracted litigation.”
“My job is to see that justice is done and to protect public safety,” Valdez said. “The IAC is one tool we can employ to improve the criminal justice system while protecting the rights of the accused and of the victims.”
Valdez will discuss the Independent Assessment Conference (IAC) and its role on KLWN’s “According to the Record with Hank Booth” on Monday, September 12, at 8:10 a.m. To listen to the live webcast, visit www.klwn.com. To listen to the on-demand podcast, visit www.klwn.com/according-to-the-record-w-hank/.