Mediating in Mayberry
North Carolina lost its favorite son earlier this year when Andy Griffith died at the age of 86. Griffith starred on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960 to 1968. Griffith played the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor, the sheriff, justice of the peace, and all-around voice of reason in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina. But in addition to all his other attributes, Sheriff Taylor was a mediator extraordinaire!
The current issue of the newsletter published by the Professional Mediation Institute (of which I am privileged to be a director) features the article “Andy Griffith: TV Land Mediator”, by Professor Paula M. Young of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. Professor Young’s article recounts how Sheriff Taylor mediates a feud between two families that has raged for generations. Matters come to a head when a boy from one family and a girl from the other want to marry. Professor Young demonstrates how Sheriff Taylor uses classic mediation techniques to help the parties reach a solution to a problem that combines elements of the Hatfield/McCoy feud and Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” (and all within the constraints of a 30-minute sitcom). The article is both amusing and profound, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Michael S. Orfinger is a principal mediator at the firm of Upchurch, Watson, White and Max.