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WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING: THE EVIDENCE TO PRESENT
By Kay Abramsohn
Vol. 25, October 2002
When you come to your administrative hearing, you will be asked to present your case. The information you present for your case may be slightly different, depending on the type of case you are involved in. Generally, you are presenting to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) your disagreement with a determination that was made against you or the information being used against you. Perhaps you will be presenting your information about problems with the way something was done, why something should be done differently, or why something should now happen or be completed for you. The following descriptions are generally the types of hearings that you may be involved in.
Type 1. You are a licensed individual or company and the regulating agency wants to take some action against your license either because a complaint was filed against you by another person, or because the agency has made some investigation and found some factual information it believes to be important. Generally, you are presenting your disagreement with the agency’s action and why it should not happen.
Type 2. You are trying to become licensed or qualified for something or some benefits and the regulating agency has denied your application. Generally, you are presenting an explanation of the information the agency used against you or additional information in your favor which you feel the agency did not, but should, take into account.
Type 3. You are the person who filed the complaint against a licensed person or company and are presenting your version about what has happened. Generally, you are presenting why you think your complaint has merit and what you believe should happen next on your behalf.
Type 4. You are a person against whom an agency has made a determination with which you disagree and want reconsidered. Generally, you are presenting why you disagree, your reasons for your disagreement and the supporting law, facts, documents or witness testimony supporting your position.
In all of these cases you must present information to the ALJ. You may be aware that in the judicial courts of Arizona there are specific and detailed rules of evidence which must be followed, but in this quasi-judicial administrative tribunal, the rules about what evidence may be presented and admitted are more relaxed. The key thing to keep in mind about your presentation is to present the information and documents which are directly relevant to the issues in your case and which would be of assistance to the ALJ in making a determination in the case. The ALJ may deny admission of testimony or documents which are irrelevant or repetitious.
You and all witnesses are required to be sworn in and testify under oath. You should be prepared to tell your version of events. You may have kept or made notes or a list of what happened first and next, etc. Do not expect to just read your list into the record. You are there to tell the ALJ your information and to answer questions to the best of your ability and recollection, if the ALJ or the other side has questions for you. Every person who presents testimony at a hearing may be asked questions by the ALJ or by the other side.
If you feel another person can supplement your own testimony with additional, technical or expert information about what happened or about a portion of what happened, you should make sure that person comes with you or attends the hearing to present that information to the ALJ. It is always better to have that person testify in person, rather than bring a letter or affidavit from that person.
Agencies which send cases over to the OAH for hearing typically provide a certain amount of information so that the ALJ has some background about your case. This may include copies of things you have already provided to the referring agency or to the other side.
All along, you should have kept copies of documents or letters you received from the agency or other side about your case. It will help you present your case if you take the time to put them in chronological order and review them before the hearing. This will enable you to sort out which documents are the important ones that you want the ALJ to review in making determinations. The ALJ does not know exactly what happened. It is up to you to make sure that you point out or highlight for the ALJ what is important in those documents to review.
If you plan to present a copy of something to the ALJ, you must also have and present a copy to the other side. Do not expect OAH to make copies for you and do not expect the ALJ to take time out from the hearing to make copies for you.
When you ask the ALJ to admit your document into the record, you should tell the ALJ what the document is and why it is important or what it shows. Sometimes the other side objects to the admission of a document. The ALJ will listen to the objection, and often make a decision on his or her own judgment about whether or not to admit the document. If the ALJ asks you for a response, you should tell the ALJ why you believe the document should be considered.
The ALJ will take your document and mark it as an exhibit. These exhibits become and remain a part of the hearing file in your case. After the case is over (no more appeals), you can request in writing that your exhibits be returned. Typically, you come back to the OAH to pick them up after the exhibits are inventoried; you must sign a release form.
Shape and Size
The OAH maintains a hearing case file for your matter. This case file holds standard 8 1/2" by 11" papers. All documentary evidence that you bring to the hearing should ideally fit into that case file or expansion folders which can be maintained with the file. Sometimes you may have a larger item, such as charts, graphs or maps. It is best if these larger items can be folded so they will fit in the case file.
In certain cases a person may be tempted to bring in large or bulky physical objects or items for the ALJ to review. It is unlikely that this sort of item would be maintained in the administrative hearing case file. Anytime you bring along such an item, you should be prepared to completely describe to the ALJ what the item is and why it is important to review it during the hearing.