Title: Section 358-5.6 - Hearing officer.
358-5.6 Hearing officer. (a) The hearing shall be conducted by an impartial hearing officer employed by the department, who has not been involved in any way with the action in question.
(b) To ensure a complete record at the hearing, the hearing officer must:
(1) preside over the fair hearing and regulate the conduct and course of the fair hearing, including at the hearing officer's discretion, requiring sworn testimony, and administering the necessary oaths;
(2) make an opening statement explaining the nature of the proceeding, the issues to be heard and the manner in which the fair hearing will be conducted;
(3) elicit documents and testimony, including questioning the parties and witnesses, if necessary, particularly where the appellant demonstrates difficulty or inability to question a witness; however, the hearing officer will not act as a party's representative;
(4) where the hearing officer considers independent medical assessment necessary, require that an independent medical assessment be made part of the record when the fair hearing involves medical issues such as a diagnosis, an examining physician's report, or a medical review team's decision;
(5) adjourn the fair hearing to another time on the hearing officer's own motion or on the request of either party, to the extent allowable by section 358-5.3 of this Subpart;
(6) adjourn the fair hearing when in the judgment of the hearing officer it would be prejudicial to the due process rights of the parties to go forward with the hearing on the scheduled hearing date;
(7) review and evaluate the evidence, rule on the admissibility of evidence, determine the credibility of witnesses, make findings of fact relevant to the issues of the hearing which will be binding upon the commissioner unless such person has read a complete transcript of the hearing or has listened to the electronic recording of the fair hearing;
(8) at the hearing officer's discretion, where necessary to develop a complete evidentiary record, issue subpoenas, and/or require the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and records; and
(9) prepare an official report containing the substance of what transpired at the fair hearing and including a recommended decision to the commissioner.
(c) A party to a hearing may make a request to a hearing officer that the hearing officer remove himself or herself from presiding at the hearing.
(i) previously dealt in any way with the substance of the matter which is the subject of the hearing except in the capacity of hearing officer; or
(ii) any interest in the matter, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, which will impair the independent judgment of the hearing officer; or
(iii) displayed bias or partiality to any party to the hearing.
(2) The hearing officer may independently determine to remove himself or herself from presiding at a hearing on the grounds set forth in paragraph (1) of this subdivision.
(3) The request for removal made by a party must:
(i) be made in good faith; and
(ii) be made at the hearing in writing or orally on the record; and
(iii) describe in detail the grounds for requesting that the hearing officer be removed.
(4) Upon receipt of a request for removal, the hearing officer must determine on the record whether to remove himself or herself from the hearing.
(5) If the hearing officer determines not to remove himself or herself from presiding at the hearing, the hearing officer must advise the party requesting removal that the hearing will continue but the request for removal will automatically be reviewed by the general counsel or the general counsel's designee.
(6) The determination of the hearing officer not to remove himself or herself will be reviewed by the general counsel or the general counsel's designee. Such review will include review of written documents submitted by the parties and the transcript of the hearing.
(7) The general counsel or the general counsel's designee must issue a written determination of whether the hearing officer should be removed from presiding at the hearing within 15 business days of the close of the hearing.
(8) The written determination of the general counsel or the general counsel's designee will be made part of the record.
VOLUME A (Title 18)