28 CFR 18.6 - Conduct of hearings.

§ 18.6 Conduct of hearings.

(a) A hearing officer appointed by the responsible agency official shall preside over the hearing. The hearing officer may be an administrative law judge, or an employee of the Department of Justice who was not involved in the administration, investigation or prosecution of the matter at issue. In hearings held under the nondiscrimination provisions of the Crime Control Act, the Juvenile Justice Act or the Victims of Crime Act, the hearing officer shall be an administrative law judge.

(b) If the hearing officer appointed is unacceptable to the appellant, it shall promptly inform the responsible agency official of the reasons for its position. The responsible agency official may select another hearing officer, or affirm the initial selection. In either case, the official shall inform the appellant of the reasons for the decision.

(c) The hearing officer shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) The power to hold hearings and regulate the course of the hearings and the conduct of the parties and their counsel;

(2) The power to sign and issue subpoenas and other orders requiring access to records;

(3) The power to administer oaths and affirmations;

(4) The power to examine witnesses;

(5) The power to rule on offers of proof and to receive evidence;

(6) The power to take depositions or to cause depositions to be taken;

(7) The power to hold conferences under § 18.6(d) for the settlement or simplification of the issues or for any other proper purpose;

(8) The power to consider and rule upon procedural requests and other motions, including motions for default;

(9) The duty to conduct fair and impartial hearings;

(10) The duty to maintain order;

(11) The duty to avoid unnecessary delay; and

(12) All powers and duties reasonably necessary to perform the functions enumerated in subsections (1)-(11).

(d) The hearing officer may call upon the parties to consider:

(1) Simplification or clarification of the issues;

(2) Stipulations, admissions, agreements on documents, or other understandings which will expedite conduct of the hearing;

(3) Limitation of the number of witnesses and of cumulative evidence;

(4) Settlement of all or part of the issues in dispute;

(5) Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the case.

(e) All hearings under this part shall be public unless otherwise ordered by the responsible agency official.

(f) The hearing shall be conducted in conformity with sections 5-8 of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 554- 557.

(g) The responsible agency shall have the burden of going forward with the evidence and shall generally present its evidence first.

(h) Technical rules of evidence shall not apply to hearings conducted pursuant to this part, but rules designed to assure production of the most credible evidence available and to subject testimony to cross-examination shall be applied where reasonably necessary by the hearing officer. The hearing officer may exclude irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence. All documents and other evidence offered or taken for the record shall be open to examination by the parties, and opportunity shall be given to refute facts and arguments advanced on either side of the issues. A transcript shall be made of the oral evidence except to the extent the substance thereof is stipulated for the record.

(i) During the time a proceeding is before a hearing officer, all motions shall be addressed to the hearing officer and, if within his or her delegated authority, shall be ruled upon. Any motion upon which the hearing officer has no authority to rule shall be certified to the responsible agency official with a recommendation. The opposing party may answer within such time as may be designated by the hearing officer. The hearing officer may permit further replies by both parties.