47 CFR 1.244 - Designation of a settlement judge.
(a) In broadcast comparative cases involving applicants for only new facilities, the applicants may request the appointment of a settlement judge to facilitate the resolution of the case by settlement.
(b) Where all applicants in the case agree that such procedures may be beneficial, such requests may be filed with the presiding judge no later than 15 days prior to the date scheduled by the presiding judge for the commencement of hearings. The presiding judge shall suspend the procedural dates in the case and forward the request to the Chief Administrative Law Judge for action.
(c) If, in the discretion of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, it appears that the appointment of a settlement judge will facilitate the settlement of the case, the Chief Judge will appoint a “neutral” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 581 and 583(a) to act as the settlement judge.
(1) The parties may request the appointment of a settlement judge of their own choosing so long as that person is a “neutral” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 581.
(2) The appointment of a settlement judge in a particular case is subject to the approval of all the applicants in the proceeding. See 5 U.S.C. 583(b).
(3) The Commission's Administrative Law Judges are eligible to act as settlement judges, except that an Administrative Law Judge will not be appointed as a settlement judge in any case in which the Administrative Law Judge also acts as the presiding officer.
(4) Other members of the Commission's staff who qualify as neutrals may be appointed as settlement judges, except that staff members whose duties include drafting, review, and/or recommendations in adjudicatory matters pending before the Commission shall not be appointed as settlement judges.
(d) The settlement judge shall have the authority to require applicants to submit their written direct cases for review. The settlement judge may also meet with the applicants and/or their counsel, individually and/or at joint conferences, to discuss their cases and the cases of their competitors. All such meetings will be off-the-record, and the settlement judge may express an opinion as to the relative comparative standing of the applicants and recommend possible means to resolve the proceeding by settlement. The proceedings before the settlement judge shall be subject to the confidentiality provisions of 5 U.S.C. 574. Moreover, no statements, offers of settlement, representations or concessions of the parties or opinions expressed by the settlement judge will be admissible as evidence in any Commission licensing proceeding.