(1) Following the ODR's receipt of a notice of referral to the ODR, an initial conference will be scheduled as soon as possible.
(2) Parties may participate at the initial conference either on their own behalf or through representatives, employees, or agents as long as a requisite notice of appearance has been entered by an attorney or a power of attorney form designating representation has been submitted by the party of record.
(3) Written notice of the initial conference shall be given at least 10 days prior to the date of the initial conference unless the parties waive notice. The initial conference may be conducted by telephone, in person, or by other means agreeable to the parties.
(4) At the initial conference, the hearing examiner will discuss the options for proceeding with an appeal before the ODR. The options generally entail proceeding to a decision based on a hearing, proceeding to a decision based on the record, and/or participating in mediation. The hearing examiner shall set a time and date for the mediation or hearing that is as mutually satisfactory as possible to all concerned.
(5) Once a hearing or mediation has been scheduled, the hearing examiner will coordinate with the parties to schedule other deadlines as needed, such as:
(a) discovery and exhibit exchanges;
(b) motion deadlines; and
(c) other documentation or briefing submission deadlines.
(6) If the parties and the hearing examiner agree, mediation may occur during the initial conference as set forth in ARM 42.2.618.
(7) A party may request a continuance of a scheduled matter. The party seeking the continuance shall indicate whether the request is opposed. If the request for continuance is contested, the requesting party shall provide the basis for the request.
(8) Specific facts and substantive matters discussed during the initial conference are considered confidential. Procedural matters discussed are not considered confidential. Any matters raised do not constitute admissions against interest of any party participating in the conference.
(9) The hearing examiner assigned to the matter shall preside over any hearing and issue the written determination adjudicating the matter.
(10) Nothing in this rule may be construed as limiting a party's right to a hearing.