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Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions represent questions you may have with regard to representing yourself as a party in a matter before an OAH hearing officer.

OAH is providing this information to help you prepare for and participate in your administrative hearing when you represent yourself.  It is a guide which applies generally.  Not all cases are the same, and your case may be different in some respects from the information provided below.  OAH hopes this will help you better understand the hearings process; however, it is not a substitute for having an attorney represent you, if possible. If you have questions about your case, it is appropriate to ask the Hearing Officer those questions at any hearing attended by the parties in the case.

REMEMBER:  It is very important for you to read carefully all documents sent to you by OAH, by an agency, or by any party involved in the hearing.  Those documents may tell you about the issues involved or allegations against you, important times and dates, deadlines you must meet, and rights you may have.

A Hearing Officer is not a judge as part of the court system, and is not employed by the agency involved in your action. Instead, a Hearing Officer is a specially trained attorney employed by, or contracted with, OAH who conducts an orderly, fair, and impartial agency hearing, presides at related proceedings, and issues a recommended or preliminary decision for an agency matter pursuant to that agency’s use of OAH’s hearing officer services. In most cases, the Hearing Officer will write a recommended or preliminary decision for the agency head, who then has final decision-making authority. In rare cases, a Hearing Officer may also issue the final agency decision themselves.

A Hearing Officer is not a judge as part of the court system, so you don’t need to call them “Judge” or “Your Honor” during a hearing. Instead, acceptable ways to address a Hearing Officer at hearing would be “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or “Hearing Officer.”

No. While OAH provides hearing officers to most Idaho agencies, and can do so either where an agency is required to use OAH, or where an agency requests that OAH be used, certain agencies and kinds of cases do not use OAH.

OAH may not begin proceedings until an agency transmits a case to OAH. An agency will make a formal request by sending a transmittal form to OAH. Generally, no more than three business days after receiving the transmittal, OAH will designate a Hearing Officer to be assigned to your case. You will receive a copy of that order appointing a specific Hearing Officer.

No. Under Idaho law, only agencies can transmit cases to OAH to be heard. However, if you have a question about whether your case will, or may, be heard by OAH, feel free to ask the agency involved in your case.

No. The Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (or their designee, if they are unavailable), to ensure that an independent, unbiased Hearing Officer is provided to hear a contested case, is the only person that can assign a specific Hearing Officer to hear a case. Likewise, agencies are also prohibited, by statute, from requesting a specific hearing officer. The only exception is if OAH is providing a Hearing Officer to be a mediator, in which case an agency can request a specific mediator.

After a Hearing Officer is assigned, they will usually set a scheduling conference (typically by telephone or video), where procedural details about the case will be discussed. These details will generally include things like deadlines, and the date of the final hearing. In certain simple cases, the Hearing Officer may also just set a final hearing date after informally speaking with the parties to make sure the date works for everyone involved.

Any individual may represent himself or herself at an administrative hearing without an attorney, but having an attorney represent you may help you understand and follow the issues and procedures for your case. It may be especially helpful to have an attorney if one of the other parties, such as the agency, has an attorney. You may also have a non-attorney assist you as your representative in a hearing before the Hearing Officer, but generally that person must be an employee, attorney, family member or next friend. Likewise, a business may be assisted by a representative who can be a member/partner, duly authorized employee, or attorney. However, do note that the law may require, in some cases, that if you do have someone assist you, it must be an attorney. Neither the Hearing Officer nor anyone else from OAH may give you legal advice, although they will provide you with a fair and impartial hearing.

As an independent, unbiased agency, OAH cannot recommend any specific attorney to you. Instead, it is suggested that you ask friends and family for attorney recommendations, or contact the Idaho State Bar for assistance in locating an attorney.

Generally, the Idaho Rules of Administrative Procedure provide the rules that govern agency contested cases, and are a good starting point to understand what rules might apply. However, certain agencies have separate statutes and regulations that provide different rules for contested case hearings. If you’re not sure which rules will apply, simply ask at the time of your scheduling conference (or any other hearing before your final hearing), and the Hearing Officer will explain to which rules will govern your case.

Potentially yes to all of these, depending on the exact rules that govern your case. All of these will generally be addressed in your scheduling conference. If there is an issue that comes up that was not addressed at your scheduling conference, talk with the other party/ies to decide if all of you can simply agree on how to address it, or if another hearing with the Hearing Officer needs to be set.

Generally, you may not contact the Hearing Officer without the other party included in the communication. If you wish to discuss specific issues with the Hearing Officer or talk about your side of the case, the other party(s) must be included in the conversation. Generally, it is best to speak with the other party about your need to contact the Hearing Officer to reach an agreement about having a hearing on your issue; you may then email the Hearing Officer, copying the other party (whether there is agreement or not), making your request for a hearing to discuss your issue. If you have any direct communication with the Hearing Officer without involving the other party, the Hearing Officer is generally required to provide that communication to all parties in the case

As part of its modernization efforts, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) does not use fax machines. If you need to send a document to OAH, but are having difficulties, please contact our front desk at 208-605-4300 for help.

Generally, any contested case may be informally settled without the need to have a hearing. Contact the agency attorney or the other party (or their attorney), to try and informally work something out. It may also be possible to resolve a matter by mediation or arbitration. A case may even be informally settled after the hearing but before a final decision is issued. If appropriate, the Hearing Officer may even allow the parties to delay a hearing to allow them additional time to discuss a potential resolution to the case.

Generally, yes. If your hearing is held by telephone or video conference, an audio and/or video recording will be generated. If your hearing is in-person, it may be recorded by audio and/or video, and, additionally, a court reporter may also be present to create a transcript of the hearing.

This can be discussed and decided at the time of the scheduling conference. Generally, the Hearing Officer will work with the parties to determine the best option. The Hearing Officer may also decide how the hearing is held over the objection of one or more parties, if the Hearing Officer feels that a particular hearing method best suits the case.

Usually, you can get the date and/or time of a hearing delayed or changed if you are unable to attend, provided there is a good reason for the delay. First, contact the other parties and see if each will agree to a delay or change of the hearing (which is called a “continuance”). If all parties agree, you can then make a written request for a continuance to the Hearing Officer, stating that all parties agree to the continuance, and stating the good reason(s) for the continuance. If any party does not agree, you must submit a written request for a continuance stating your good reason for the continuance. If any party objects to the continuance in writing, the Hearing Officer must decide whether to grant the continuance. If you can, make your request for a continuance well in advance of the hearing you wish to delay or change. The final decision to grant a continuance rests with the Hearing Officer.

If you do not attend a hearing you may lose your case, either because you failed to appear or because the agency proved its case and you were not there to offer contrary evidence. If there is an emergency and you will be late, contact OAH as soon as possible before the hearing, either by emailing the Hearing Officer and the other party(ies), or calling the main office (208-605-4300). If you otherwise miss a hearing without notifying the Hearing Officer, the Hearing Officer will usually enter a proposed order of “default,” which means you failed to appear and that you will lose your case. After this proposed order is issued, you usually will have the opportunity to explain your why you failed to appear within seven (7) days after the proposed order is issued before a final default order is issued against you.

If you need an accommodation for a disability, a translator, or a sign language interpreter, you must notify the Hearing Officer well in advance of the hearing, if possible. Be as specific as you can about the accommodation you require. It is not permissible to bring a friend or relative to interpret for you. Hearings will be held at accessible locations.

The timeline for a Hearing Officer to issue a recommended or preliminary order to an agency head will generally be issued no later than 60 days after your hearing, unless some other statute or regulation requires that the decision be issued quicker than that.

Generally, the decisions issued by OAH Hearing Officer are subject to final approval by the head of the agency in the proceeding. Instructions on how to contest the Hearing Officer’s order will be included in that order, so be sure to read the entire order.

Sometimes things may not appear to be going along as you think they should. Not everyone will be pleased with all the decisions of the Hearing Officer. However, all parties have the right to be treated courteously and to have their hearing conducted with the aim of finding the truth. If you have a complaint about a Hearing Officer’s conduct at your hearing or the timeliness in issuing a decision, please make your complaint in writing to the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. Your concerns will then be addressed consistent with the spirit of providing a fair, impartial, and independent hearing.

These questions and answers are for informational purposes only.  Nothing contained here binds OAH or its hearing officers to any practice or procedure described in it.

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