7 CFR 1.640 - What are the requirements for prehearing conferences?
(a)Initial prehearing conference. The ALJ will conduct an initial prehearing conference with the parties at the time specified in the notice under § 1.630, on or about the 20th day after the effective date stated in the referral notice under § 1.626(c)(4), 43 CFR 45.26(c)(4), or 50 CFR 221.26(c)(4).
(1) The initial prehearing conference will be used:
(i) To identify, narrow, and clarify the disputed issues of material fact and exclude issues that do not qualify for review as factual, material, and disputed;
(v) To set the date, time, and place of the hearing.
(2) The initial prehearing conference may also be used:
(i) To discuss limiting and grouping witnesses to avoid duplication;
(ii) To discuss stipulations of fact and of the content and authenticity of documents;
(iii) To consider requests that the ALJ take official notice of public records or other matters;
(iv) To discuss the submission of written testimony, briefs, or other documents in electronic form; and
(v) To consider any other matters that may aid in the disposition of the case.
(b)Other conferences. The ALJ may in his or her discretion direct the parties to attend one or more other prehearing conferences, if consistent with the need to complete the hearing process within 90 days. Any party may by motion request a conference.
(1) Each party's representative must be fully prepared to discuss all issues pertinent to that party that are properly before the conference, both procedural and substantive. The representative must be authorized to commit the party that he or she represents respecting those issues.
(2) Before the date set for the initial prehearing conference, the parties' representatives must make a good faith effort:
(i) To meet in person, by telephone, or by other appropriate means; and
(e)Failure to attend. Unless the ALJ orders otherwise, a party that fails to attend or participate in a conference, after being served with reasonable notice of its time and place, waives all objections to any agreements reached in the conference and to any consequent orders or rulings.
(f)Scope. During a conference, the ALJ may dispose of any procedural matters related to the case.
(g)Order. Within 2 days after the conclusion of each conference, the ALJ must issue an order that recites any agreements reached at the conference and any rulings made by the ALJ during or as a result of the conference.