Rotwitt had previously represented Castille on the project, creating what Castille saw as a possible conflict. Rotwitt maintains that Castille knew all along of his role as codeveloper and that he had finished his work for Castille before joining Pulver.
Eric L. Frank, the judge handling the bankruptcy filing by Pulver's firm, signed a mediation order on Wednesday, appointing Chief Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Raslavich as mediator.
If the matter cannot be resolved quickly, the project could be imperiled. Gov. Rendell has committed to releasing $200 million already appropriated for the project, as long as it is competitively bid. But he leaves office in January, and the next governor could choose to spend the $200 million elsewhere.
With Castille trying to determine how $12 million in public funds has already been spent on the project, the FBI has launched a criminal investigation.
Lawyers on both sides of the case, and advocates for women, children, and court reform, all welcomed the mediation order.
"There are so many complicated issues and the time line is tight," said Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, an advocacy group that has been fighting for a new Family Court.
"Everybody wants to see a Family Court get built and we're prepared to pursue any avenue that will realize that goal," said William Schorling, who represents the court system in the bankruptcy. "We'll see what Judge Raslavich can do."
But Schorling said he believes it will be "difficult" to find a resolution. Money may be a sticking point.
Pulver originally was due to receive $6.9 million in fees; he has been paid less than half that.
State officials say the project must be competitively bid. But even if money were available, paying more to Pulver now for the failed development plan would likely be a political embarassment.
Mark Nevins, a spokesman for Pulver, said he was hopeful that Pulver, the authority, and the courts can make a deal. He said the distance between them "might not be quite as wide as people might think."
Contact staff writer Joseph Tanfani at 215-854-2684 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.