- Appearing at the Hearing
If your case is not settled or rescheduled you must appear on the date specified in the notice of hearing. If you do not appear, one of two things will occur. If you appealed an agency's action, the ALJ will interpret your absence as an indication that you no longer wish to pursue the matter and the hearing will be dismissed. If the other party requested the hearing, you will be in "default" and the ALJ will interpret your absence to be an admission by you that all of the allegations contained in the complaint are true. In that event, the ALJ will enter an order in favor of the other party.
- How a Hearing Is Conducted
When you appear, the hearing will be conducted similar to a trial but without a jury. The ALJ will oversee the hearing; ruling on procedure, the evidence which may be presented, and objections.
Each party may make an opening statement. If you choose to make one, you should briefly summarize your side of the story for the ALJ. For Worker's Compensation hearings, the usual practice does not include opening or closing statements.
Each party may then present evidence. Usually the party who files the complaint or requests the appeal presents his or her evidence first. That party presents all of his or her witnesses and other evidence and then the other party may do the same. Each witness can be questioned by both parties: first the party who called the witness (direct examination), then the other party (cross examination). Each party then gets a second opportunity to ask follow-up questions (re-direct and re-cross examination).
The evidence may be in documents or oral testimony from witnesses. Witnesses will be sworn to tell the truth. You may testify yourself and you may be called as a witness by another party. You may refuse to answer questions only if your testimony might subject you to criminal prosecution.
Generally, witnesses can testify only about matters of which they have personal knowledge. Although the ALJ might allow you to testify about what someone else told you, your case will be stronger if you call that person as a witness. If you anticipate any problem, such as whether a certain document will be admitted or certain testimony allowed, you or your attorney should contact the ALJ so that the issue can be discussed in a prehearing conference.
- Closing Statement
After all the evidence has been presented, each side may make a closing statement. You may summarize or comment on the evidence that has been presented. You may also argue how the case should be decided. For Worker's Compensation hearings, the usual practice does not include opening or closing statements.
- The Record
Each hearing is recorded on audiotape, on videotape, or by a court reporter. You may purchase a copy of the tape or a written copy of the tape (called a "transcript"), if a transcript is made.
- Written Statements After the Hearing
Following the hearing, you may be allowed to write a document (called a "brief") which sets forth the facts and laws you believe are relevant. You may also argue for a particular outcome and against the other party's position. The ALJ will discuss with the parties whether they wish to submit briefs and the timetable for submitting them. Submission of briefs is not typical for Worker's Compensation, WFS or Corrections hearings, but on occasion the parties may file briefs upon request of a party or the ALJ.