7 CFR 1.151 - Ex parte communications.
(a) At no stage of the proceeding between its institution and the issuance of the final decision shall the Judge or Judicial Officer discuss ex parte the merits of the proceeding with any person who is connected with the proceeding in an advocative or in an investigative capacity, or with any representative of such person: Provided, That procedural matters shall not be included within this limitation; and Provided further, That the Judge or Judicial Officer may discuss the merits of the case with such a person if all parties to the proceeding, or their attorneys have been given notice and an opportunity to participate. A memorandum of any such discussion shall be included in the record.
(1) All such written communications;
(2) Memoranda stating the substance of all such oral communications; and
(3) All written responses, and memoranda stating the substance of all oral responses thereto.
(d) Upon receipt of a communication knowingly made or knowingly caused to be made by a party in violation of this section, the Judge or Judicial Officer may, to the extent consistent with the interests of justice and the policy of the underlying statute, require the party to show cause why his claim or interest in the proceeding should not be dismissed, denied, disregarded, or otherwise adversely affected on account of such violation.
(e) To the extent consistent with the interests of justice and the policy of the underlying statute, a violation of this section shall be sufficient grounds for a decision adverse to the party who knowingly commits a violation of this section or who knowingly causes such a violation to occur.
(f) For purposes of this section ex parte communication means an oral or written communication not on the public record with respect to which reasonable prior notice to all parties is not given, but it shall not include requests for status reports on any matter or the proceeding.
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