50 CFR § 18.76 - Presiding officer.

(a) Upon publication of the notice of hearing pursuant to § 18.74, the Office of Hearings and Appeals shall appoint a presiding officer pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 3105. No individual who has any conflict of interest, financial or otherwise, shall serve as presiding officer in such proceeding.

(b) The presiding officer, in any proceeding under this subpart, shall have power to:

(1) Change the time and place of the hearing and adjourn the hearing;

(2) Evaluate direct testimony submitted pursuant to these regulations, make a preliminary determination of the issues, conduct a prehearing conference to determine the issues for the hearing agenda, and cause to be published in the Federal Register a final hearing agenda;

(3) Rule upon motions, requests and admissibility of direct testimony;

(4) Administer oaths and affirmations, question witnesses and direct witnesses to testify;

(5) Modify or waive any rule (after notice) when determining no party will be prejudiced;

(6) Receive written comments and hear oral arguments;

(7) Render a recommended decision; and

(8) Do all acts and take all measures, including regulation of media coverage, for the maintenance of order at and the efficient conduct of the proceeding.

(c) In case of the absence of the original presiding officer or his inability to act, the powers and duties to be performed by the original presiding officer under this part in connection with a proceeding may, without abatement of the proceeding, be assigned to any other presiding officer by the Office of Hearings and Appeals unless otherwise ordered by the Director.

(d) The presiding officer shall withdraw from the proceeding upon his own motion or upon the filing of a motion by a party under § 18.76(e) if he deems himself disqualified under recognized canons of judicial ethics.

(e) A presiding officer may be requested to withdraw at any time prior to the recommended decision. If there is filed by a party in good faith a timely and sufficient affidavit alleging the presiding officer's personal bias, malice, conflict of interest or other basis which might result in prejudice to a party, the hearing shall recess. The Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals shall immediately determine the matter as a part of the record and decision in the proceeding, after making such investigation or holding such hearings, or both, as he may deem appropriate in the circumstances.

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