9 CFR 202.122 - Rule 22: Ex parte communications.
(a) At no stage of the proceeding between its docketing and the issuance of the final decision shall the presiding officer or judicial officer discuss ex parte the merits of the proceeding with any party, or attorney or representative of a party: Provided, That procedural matters shall not be included within this limitation; and Provided further, That the presiding officer or judicial officer may discuss the merits of the case with such a person if all parties to the proceeding or their attorneys or representatives have been served with notice and an opportunity to participate. A memorandum of any such discussion shall be included in the record.
(b) No party, or attorney or representative of a party, or other person not an employee of the Department, shall make or knowingly cause to be made to the presiding officer or judicial officer an ex parte communication relevant to the merits of the proceeding.
(c) If the presiding officer or judicial officer receives an ex parte communication in violation of this section, the one who receives the communication shall place in the public record of the proceeding:
(1) Such communication if written, or a memorandum stating the substance of such communication if oral; and
(2) A copy of any written response or a memorandum stating the substance of any oral response thereto.
(d) Copies of all such items placed or included in the record, as provided in this section, shall be served on all parties.
(e) 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 a request for a status report on any matter or the proceeding.