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Video Guide to Hearings

Video Guide Transcript

NARRATOR: Judge Eric Lipman

[Opens with Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: Welcome to the Office of Administrative Hearings’ Video Guide to Hearings. My name is Eric Lipman and for the next eight minutes we will explain some of the basic procedures for cases at the Office of Administrative Hearings and give you details on where you can learn more information. Thanks for tuning in.
[Fade to Title Screen: Office of Administrative Hearings Video Guide to Hearings]
[Fade to three people working around a table]
NARRATOR: The Office of Administrative Hearings – or OAH – resolves disputes between members of the public and government agencies.
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: Our job is to assure that government agencies follow the laws that govern their operations.
[Fade to Title Screen: Notice of Hearing]
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: Let’s say you have just received a Notice of Hearing from a State or local agency – like the Minnesota Department of Human Services or the City of Minneapolis. The Notice states that a government agency has taken some action – like revoking a license or denying your application for a government benefit. If you thought the agency was wrong, and you appealed that decision, the Notice of Hearing that you received represents the very next step in your appeal process.
[Fade to Notice of Hearing graphic]
NARRATOR: Be sure to read the Notice of Hearing carefully. The Notice tells you WHAT the agency thinks the hearing will be about; WHERE proceedings will take place and WHEN either a hearing or a pre-hearing conference will take place.
[Fade to Title Screen: Pre-Hearing]
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: If a pre-hearing conference is scheduled in your case, this is a time for you, the Agency representative and the Administrative Law Judge to discuss how and when your case will make its way to a hearing. Also, make sure you let the Agency’s representative and the Administrative Law Judge know if you are unable to attend the hearing or pre-hearing conference. If you simply fail to show up at a scheduled hearing or pre-hearing conference, you could lose your case by “default.”
[Fade to Title Screen: The Hearing]
[Fade to video of Judge, Agency, and Person interacting in a Hearing Room]
NARRATOR: A hearing is a process for presenting disputes to a Judge. Our hearing process is designed to be open and accessible – even to people who are not represented by a lawyer. There are a few simple rules; and if you follow them, the hearing will go smoothly.
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: In the rest of this presentation, we will show you some examples of what a hearing looks like. The judge will tell you who will present their evidence first.
[Fade to Evidence graphic]
NARRATOR: Evidence can be in the form of documents – like photographs, receipts or letters – or what people testify to in the courtroom. You should bring to the hearing any evidence that is helpful to your case.
[Fade to Exhibits graphic]
NARRATOR: The documents that you bring to the hearing are called exhibits. You should have four copies of your exhibits – one set for you; one set for the agency; one copy for the judge; and one copy for use by the witnesses who are called to testify in the case.
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: Let’s take a look at a typical courtroom.
[Fade to Title Screen: The Courtroom]
SCENE: In the Courtroom. The Judge is seated on the bench. Each party is at a table.
JUDGE: Good morning – before we get started -- have the parties exchanged exhibits?
AGENCY LAWYER, MR. SMITH: Yes, Your Honor. Ms. Jones and I have labeled and exchanged the exhibits. My exhibits are marked 1 through 10 and hers are marked A through L.
JUDGE: Ms. Jones, have you had a chance to look at Mr. Smith’s exhibits?
MS. JONES: Yes, I have, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Would you like to offer the exhibits at this time?
MR. SMITH: Yes, Your Honor. Agency offers Exhibits 1 through 10.
JUDGE: Do you object to any of the Agency Exhibits, Ms. Jones?
MS. JONES: Well, Your Honor, I don’t like what some of them say.
JUDGE: I understand that you may disagree with some of the things that are in these documents; and you will have a chance to tell me about your disagreements. What I am asking at this point is whether there is a reason to believe that any of the documents are not what they appear to be; or that they have been changed in some way?
MS. JONES: Oh, no. These are copies of the documents I received from the Licensing Division, all right…. So I guess I have no objections, Your Honor. JUDGE: Okay. The Agency’s Exhibits 1 through 10 are received. Ms. Jones, would you like to offer your exhibits into evidence? MS. JONES: Yes, Your Honor. JUDGE: Mr. Smith, do you have any objections to Ms. Jones’s exhibits?
MR. SMITH: No, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Ms. Jones’s exhibits, A through L are received. Please bring me the marked copies of your exhibits.
[Fade to Title Screen: Direct & Cross Examination]
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: In a hearing, there are two kinds of questioning. There is direct examination, during which a party may ask questions of someone whom he or she has called to testify at the hearing. There is also cross-examination, during which a party asks questions of the other party’s witness. During direct examination you cannot ask a question that suggests what you want the answer to be. Here is an example:
[SCENE: Ms. Jones and Mr. Smith bring their exhibits to the Judge and then return to counsel table.]
MR. SMITH: Ms. Brown, did you see dangerous chemicals within reach of the daycare children when you visited Ms. Jones’s daycare on September 29?
MS. JONES: I object, Your Honor! He’s telling her what to say!
JUDGE: I agree. Your objection is sustained. Mr. Smith, you may not ask leading questions of your witness. This is direct examination.
MR. SMITH: Yes, Your Honor. I will re-phrase the question. Ms. Brown, when was the last time you inspected Ms. Jones’s home daycare?
MS. BROWN: On September 29.
MR. SMITH: What did you see on that day?
MS. BROWN: I saw a can of paint remover on a shelf in an unlocked storage room that was accessible to daycare children.
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: When you are cross-examining a witness, you may ask questions that suggest the answer.
[Fade to Hearing Room Scene]
MS. JONES: Ms. Brown, isn’t it true that I unlocked the storeroom door during your inspection so that I could get a new battery for the baby monitor?
MS. BROWN: Yes, but –
MS. JONES: Thank you, Ms. Brown. You have answered my question.
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: It is important to keep your cool during a hearing, even if you disagree with something that a witness has said.
[Fade to Hearing Room Scene]
MS. BROWN: I called Ms. Jones five times and left messages on her answering machine each time, telling her that I needed a written response to the Correction Order.
MS. JONES: That’s a lie! You never left any messages!
JUDGE: Ms. Jones, it is not your turn to testify. I will hear from you after the Agency is finished. If there is something that an Agency witness says that you disagree with, make a note to yourself, because you will have a chance to question their witnesses. Also, when it’s your turn to present your case, you can testify as to what happened.
[Fade to Title Screen: Closing Arguments]
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: After each side has presented its evidence, the Judge will give each side an opportunity to make closing arguments. Closing arguments are a way to remind the Judge of what she has seen and heard about the case. Let’s listen to a couple of very short closing arguments:
[Fade to Hearing Room Scene]
MR. SMITH: Your Honor, the evidence we have presented today shows that Ms. Jones’s daycare does not meet state standards for safety. We have also proven that Ms. Jones does not take her obligations under the licensing laws and rules very seriously – because she failed to respond to the Correction Order or Ms. Brown’s repeated calls about the Order. For these reasons, we ask that you recommend that the Commissioner affirm the revocation of Ms. Jones’s daycare license.
MS. JONES: Your Honor, I think I have shown that many of these so-called violations were exaggerations. For example, the claim that children had access to dangerous chemicals because I opened a locked store room long enough to get a battery, is just plain wrong. No children were nearby and I was in the doorway the whole time. No one should lose their day care license for getting a battery. Thank you.
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
NARRATOR: In most cases, but not all, the Judge issues a recommendation to the Head of the Agency who makes the decision. The Judge will not issue a decision in your case on the day of the hearing. Usually, the Judge will issue a recommended decision within 30 days of the close of the hearing record. You will get a copy of the decision in the mail. Along with the decision, you will also get an explanation of the process for any further appeal.
[Fade to Title Screen: Office of Administrative Hearings Website]
Lastly, we have a posted lot of useful information on how to prepare for a hearing on the OAH website, at:
[Fade to Judge Eric Lipman]
We appreciate your time in watching this video and look forward to seeing you soon.
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