Appearing at the Hearing
If a case is not settled or rescheduled all parties must appear on the date specified in the notice of hearing. If a party does not appear, one of two things will occur. If a party appealed an agency's action, the ALJ will interpret an absence as an indication that a party no longer wish to pursue the matter and the hearing will be dismissed. If the other party requested the hearing, the respondent will be in "default" and the ALJ will interpret their absence to be an admission that all of the allegations contained in the complaint are true. In that event, the ALJ will enter an order in favor of the other party.
How a Hearing Is Conducted
The hearing will be conducted similar to a trial but without a jury. The ALJ will oversee the hearing; ruling on procedure, the evidence which may be presented, and objections.
Each party may make an opening statement. If one is made, one should briefly summarize their side of the story for the ALJ. For Worker's Compensation hearings, the usual practice does not include opening or closing statements.
Each party may then present evidence. Usually the party who files the complaint or requests the appeal presents his or her evidence first. That party presents all of his or her witnesses and other evidence and then the other party may do the same. Each witness can be questioned by both parties: first the party who called the witness (direct examination), then the other party (cross examination). Each party then gets a second opportunity to ask follow-up questions (re-direct and re-cross examination).
The evidence may be in documents or oral testimony from witnesses. Witnesses will be sworn to tell the truth. A person may testify themselves and they may be called as a witness by another party. Refusal to answer questions only if their testimony might subject them to criminal prosecution is permitted.
Generally, witnesses can testify only about matters of which they have personal knowledge. Although the ALJ might allow a person to testify about what someone else told them, their case will be stronger if they call that person as a witness. If a problem is anticipated, such as whether a certain document will be admitted or certain testimony allowed, the issue can be discussed in a prehearing conference. They should advise the ALJ of this need as soon as possible.
After all the evidence has been presented, each side may make a closing statement. They may summarize or comment on the evidence that has been presented. They may also argue how the case should be decided. For Worker's Compensation hearings, the usual practice does not include opening or closing statements.
Each hearing is recorded on audiotape, on videotape, or by a court reporter. Anybody may purchase a copy of the audio burned onto a CD or a written copy of the tape (called a "transcript"), if a transcript is made.
Written Statements After the Hearing
Following the hearing, a party may be allowed to write a document (called a "brief") which sets forth the facts and laws they believe are relevant. They may also argue for a particular outcome and against the other party's position. The ALJ will discuss with the parties whether they wish to submit briefs and the timetable for submitting them. Submission of briefs is not typical for Worker's Compensation, WFS or Corrections hearings, but on occasion the parties may file briefs upon request of a party or the ALJ.