What Happens at the Hearing - Lower Appeals
A hearing is a trial where all parties have the right to present their case by:
- having their available witnesses testify,
- asking questions to any witness who testifies (i.e., parties may ask questions to their own witnesses and may cross-examine the other party’s witnesses), and
- producing evidence in support of their position.
And, like a trial, the law requires that hearing examiners make an official recording of their hearing (parties are prohibited from making unofficial recordings), and that all testimony must be given under oath or affirmation. Anybody who is not testifying (such as any legal counsel and other representatives that the parties bring to the hearing) need not be sworn.
Toward the beginning of the hearing, the hearing examiner informs the parties of the order of testimony. When the case involves a termination from employment, the employer will usually proceed first; when the case involves a resignation from employment, the claimant usually testifies first. In other types of cases, sometimes the claimant testifies first and sometimes a representative from the agency will appear and testify first.
In presenting their case, each party may call one witness at a time. Each witness will then answer any questions that the hearing examiner may have, and any relevant questions that any party may have. When the first witness has answered all such questions, the hearing examiner will then permit the next witness to testify. This process continues until all available witnesses for all parties have testified.
Do not interrupt merely because you disagree (even if you STRONGLY disagree) with what a witness says. Remember: you will have the opportunity to ask questions of that witness and to present your own side of the story. An orderly and systematic hearing is to the advantage of all parties.
Objections: what are they, and when can I raise them? An objection is a formal protest raised during a hearing in an attempt to disallow a witness's testimony or documentary evidence. YOU CANNOT OBJECT merely because you disagree with what somebody is saying or because you believe that a witness is lying. Rather, you can only object when some type of evidence (testimony or a document) violates the official rules of evidence or other procedural law. If you are unfamiliar with the rules of evidence but you believe that a certain document or testimony may be objectionable for a reason other than you disagree with it, please feel free during the hearing to object to it, and the hearing examiner will tell you if he or she agrees.
Documentary evidence. In some cases, the parties may wish to present documentary evidence. JUST BECAUSE YOU SENT DOCUMENTS IN PRIOR TO THE HEARING, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE DOCUMENTS ARE IN EVIDENCE OR THAT THEY WILL BE CONSIDERED BY THE HEARING EXAMINER! The burden is on the presenting party to “move” those documents into evidence during the hearing by specifically calling the hearing examiner’s attention to them. These papers will be accepted as evidence as long as two conditions are met:
- The party wishing to present the document(s) has sent them to the other parties in accordance with the directions set forth in How to Prepare For—And Participate In—An Appeal, and
- The documents are relevant to the case.
NOTE: A hearing examiner cannot base his/her decision on ANY document that wasn’t properly moved and accepted into evidence during the hearing, even if that document was sent to all parties.
Maryland Department of Labor
Lower Appeals Division
1100 North Eutaw Street, Room 511
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Fax: 410-225-9781 or 410-767-2532