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by Mark Silver, Administrative Law Judge
Vol. 20, July 2001
Most people have either limited or no experience with courtroom type proceedings. Therefore, the need to be properly prepared for your hearing is of the utmost importance. If you feel that you have very little idea what is expected of you at the hearing, then you must take a proactive course of action to properly prepare for the hearing.
The single most important advice for the untrained or inexperienced litigant is to make time to come down to the Office of Administrative Hearings and observe other hearings involving the same area of the law as your case, prior to the date of your hearing. It is further recommended that you observe hearings before the same judge that has been assigned to your case, since various judges may conduct their hearings in slightly different ways. It is advisable that you call the Office of Administrative Hearings in order to determine the best available day and time to observe a hearing. Some hearings are confidential and generally closed to the public.
Be sure and visit the Office of Administrative Hearings website at www.azoah.com for information regarding OAH’s promulgated rules, sample forms, including subpoenas and motions, as well as read a biography of your assigned judge.
Although every case and area of law may vary slightly in the type of preparation required, the following general guidelines are offered to assure proper preparation for your presentation:
- a. Know your case. You have “lived” with the facts surrounding the issues of your case and need to be ready to speak extemporaneously about these issues. Although you may bring notes or an outline regarding what you need to say, most judges will not permit you to read prepared statements into the record as sworn testimony.
- b. Be organized. If you intend to submit documents or photographs into evidence, have the originals or copies of them ready to be submitted to the judge, with copies for the opposing side. Photographs should also be organized to assure that there are no duplicates or extraneous pictures submitted to the judge.
Of particular importance in Registrar of Contractors’ cases involving numerous issues of alleged construction deficiencies, if the Complainant does not feel that the Agency Corrective Work Order adequately addressed all of the enumerated items of the complaint, then the Complainant should prepare a pre-printed and numbered list of all of the items of the complaint. Sufficient copies of the list should be made for the judge and opposition to use. Having such a list will greatly facilitate the orderly and complete presentation of the issues of the case.
- c. Witnesses. If you need to have others testify on your behalf, make sure they are available for the hearing. It is not helpful to tell the judge that you could have had a certain individual testify to relevant issues, but that person is not at the hearing. It is advisable to seek subpoenas for witnesses, well in advance of your hearing date, to assure their attendance at the hearing.