Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mediation absolves Carrbaro Alderman - UNC

I have pasted below the full article from the "Daily Tar Heel" online newspaper for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The article discusses a case involving an assault charge against a public official in which mediation was effective in resolving this very public dispute.

Mediation absolves Coleman charges
By: Andrew Dunn, Senior WriterIssue date: 10/26/07 Section: CityPrintEmail

The assault charge against Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman was dropped after a one-and-a-half hour mediation session at Orange County District Criminal Court in Hillsborough on Thursday.

Coleman, 55, had been charged with misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon by the Orange County magistrate after an incident involving Amanda Kotecki, 33, of Durham, during which he hit her with his car at a high school track meet.

Kotecki agreed not to pursue the charge after Coleman, who is running for another term on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, agreed to release the following statement:

"I apologize to Ms. Kotecki for hitting her with my car. I acknowledge the importance of the volunteer work she was doing in the park that day. And I recognize that when she put her hands on my car, it was out of concern for the safety of the runners.

"I thank Ms. Kotecki for her willingness to talk this through, and I thank the Dispute Settlement Center and the courts for making mediation available."

Coleman will not have to appear in court again, his attorney, Bill Massengale, said.

"I am glad it was resolved," Massengale said. "I think everyone thought (mediation) was a good idea."

The incident occurred about 5:30 p.m. Sept. 5 in Hank Anderson Community Park, according to Carrboro police reports.

Coleman called police after being stopped from driving by Kotecki, who was directing traffic during a cross country race.

Both the 911 recording and Coleman's subsequent written statement say that Coleman, who was driving his 6-year-old son to baseball practice, asked Kotecki repeatedly to let him by and that she jumped on the hood of his car when he moved forward after her refusal.

Kotecki did not release any written statements or make comments to the media.

When the police officer Coleman requested arrived on scene, he took witness statements but did not arrest Coleman.

Police supervisors reviewed the incident and passed the details on to the magistrate, John Maddry, who issued a warrant.

Coleman turned himself in to the Carrboro police station and was released on a written promise to appear in court, according to the arrest report.

Several candidates in the alderman race had tried to use the pending charges against Coleman.

Brian Voyce, a candidate in Carrboro's mayoral election, publicly asked Mayor Mark Chilton to force Coleman to step down until the charges were resolved.

Neither Coleman nor Kotecki will be able to comment further on the case, per the rules of the Orange County Dispute Settlement Center.

"It went good," Kotecki said of the mediation session. "I think Dan's got something that we agreed to say, and I think we'll leave it at that."

Contact the City Editor at
(Link to article here)

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