Iowa Admin. Code r. 491-4.39 - Ex parte communication
Current through Register Vol. 44, No. 20, April 6, 2022
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491—4.39(17A) Ex parte communication.
4.39(1) Prohibited communications. Unless required for the disposition of ex parte matters specifically authorized by statute, following issuance of the notice of hearing, there shall be no communication, directly or indirectly, between the presiding officer and any party or representative of any party or any other person with a direct or indirect interest in such case in connection with any issue of fact or law in the case except upon notice and opportunity for all parties to participate. This does not prohibit persons jointly assigned such tasks from communicating with each other. Nothing in this provision is intended to preclude the presiding officer from communicating with members of the commission or seeking the advice or help of persons other than those with a personal interest in, or those engaged in personally investigating as defined in subrule 4.25(2), prosecuting, or advocating in, either the case under consideration or a pending factually related case involving the same parties as long as those persons do not directly or indirectly communicate to the presiding officer any ex parte communications they have received of a type that the presiding officer would be prohibited from receiving or that furnish, augment, diminish, or modify the evidence in the record.
4.39(2) Prohibitions on ex parte communications commence with the issuance of the notice of hearing in a contested case and continue for as long as the case is pending.
4.39(3) Written, oral or other forms of communication are “ex parte” if made without notice and opportunity for all parties to participate.
4.39(4) To avoid prohibited ex parte communications, notice must be given in a manner reasonably calculated to give all parties a fair opportunity to participate. Notice of written communication shall be provided in compliance with rule 491—4.28(17A) and may be supplemented by telephone, facsimile, E-mail or other means of notification. Where permitted, oral communications may be initiated through conference telephone call including all parties or their representatives.
4.39(5) Persons who jointly act as presiding officer in a pending contested case may communicate with each other without notice or opportunity for parties to participate.
4.39(6) The administrator or other persons may be present in deliberations or otherwise advise the presiding officer without notice or opportunity for parties to participate as long as they are not disqualified from participating in the making of a proposed or final decision under subrule 4.25(1) or other law and they comply with subrule 4.39(1).
4.39(7) Communications with the presiding officer involving scheduling or procedural matters uncontested do not require notice or opportunity for parties to participate. Parties should notify other parties prior to initiating such contact with the presiding officer when feasible, and shall notify other parties when seeking to continue hearings or other deadlines pursuant to rule 491—4.33(17A).
4.39(8) Disclosure of prohibited communications. A presiding officer who receives a prohibited ex parte communication during the pendency of a contested case must initially determine if the effect of the communication is so prejudicial that the presiding officer should be disqualified. If the presiding officer determines that disqualification is warranted, a copy of any prohibited written communication, all written responses to the communication, a written summary stating the substance of any prohibited oral or other communication not available in written form for disclosure, all responses made, and the identity of each person from whom the presiding officer received a prohibited ex parte communication shall be submitted for inclusion in the record under seal by protective order (or disclosed). If the presiding officer determines that disqualification is not warranted, such documents shall be submitted for inclusion in the record and served on all parties. Any party desiring to rebut the prohibited communication must be allowed the opportunity to do so upon written request filed within ten days after notice of the communication.
4.39(9) Promptly after being assigned to serve as presiding officer on a hearing panel, as a member of a full board hearing, on an intra-agency appeal, or other basis, a presiding officer shall disclose to all parties material factual information received through ex parte communication prior to such assignment unless the factual information has already been or shortly will be disclosed pursuant to Iowa Code section 17A.13(2) or through discovery. Factual information contained in an investigative report or similar document need not be separately disclosed by the presiding officer as long as such documents have been or will shortly be provided to the parties.
4.39(10) The presiding officer may render a proposed or final decision imposing appropriate sanctions for violations of this rule including default, a decision against the offending party, censure, or suspension, or revocation of the privilege to practice before the commission. Violation of ex parte communication prohibitions by commission personnel shall be reported to the administrator for possible sanctions including censure, suspension, dismissal, or other disciplinary action.