7 CFR § 1.421 - Prehearing conferences and procedures.

§ 1.421 Prehearing conferences and procedures.

(a)Purpose and scope.

(1) Upon motion of a party of record or upon the Judge's own motion, the Judge may direct the parties or their counsel to attend a conference at any reasonable time, prior to or during the course of the hearing, when the Judge finds that the proceeding would be expedited by a prehearing conference. Reasonable notice of the time and place of the conference shall be given. The Judge may order each of the parties to furnish at or subsequent to the conference any or all of the following:

(i) An outline of a party's position;

(ii) The facts upon which the party will rely;

(iii) The legal theories upon which the party will rely;

(iv) Copies of or a list of documents which the party anticipates introducing at the hearing; and

(v) A list of anticipated witnesses who will testify on behalf of the party. At the discretion of the party furnishing such list of witnesses, the names of the witnesses need not be furnished if they are otherwise identified in some meaningful way such as a short statement of the type of evidence they will offer.

(2) The Judge shall not order any of the foregoing procedures that a party can show is inappropriate or unwarranted under the circumstances of the particular determination.

(3) At the conference, the following matters shall be considered:

(i) The simplification of issues;

(ii) The possibility of obtaining stipulations of facts and of the authenticity, accuracy, and admissibility of documents, which will avoid unnecessary proof;

(iii) The limitation of the number of expert or other witnesses;

(iv) Negotiation, compromise, or settlement of issues;

(v) The exchange of copies of proposed exhibits;

(vi) The identification of documents or matters of which official notice may be requested;

(vii) A schedule to be followed by the parties for completion of the actions decided at the conference; and

(viii) Such other matters as may expedite and aid in the disposition of the proceeding.

(b)Reporting. A prehearing conference will not be stenographically reported unless so directed by the Judge.

(c)Action in lieu of personal attendance at a conference. In the event the Judge concludes that personal attendance by the Judge and the parties or counsel at a prehearing conference is unwarranted or impracticable, but determines that a conference would expedite the proceeding, the Judge may conduct such conference by telephone or correspondence.

(d)Order. Actions taken as a result of a conference shall be reduced to an appropriate written order, unless the Judge concludes that a stenographic report shall suffice, or if the Judge elects to make a statement on the record at the hearing summarizing the actions taken.