(1) Contested cases will be presided over and
heard by a quorum of the board or a hearing examiner who may be any individual
appointed by the board, including any board member.
(a) A party may seek to disqualify a hearing
examiner only on the basis of a pre-hearing motion and affidavit containing an affirmative
showing of prejudicial personal bias or lack of independence. The hearing
examiner will rule on the motion or voluntarily recuse (disqualify) himself or
herself. The ruling will not be reviewed by the board except when the personal
bias or lack of independence is demonstrated by reference to the hearing
examiner's proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order.
(b) The hearing examiner has general authority to regulate the course of contested
cases and may exercise the power and authority provided or implied by law,
including 2-4-611, MCA.
(c) The hearing examiner may establish pre-hearing and hearing dates and
procedures, rule on procedural matters, make proposed orders, findings and
conclusions, and otherwise regulate the conduct and adjudication of contested
cases as provided by law. The hearing, unless the parties stipulate otherwise,
shall be conducted in the following order:
statement and evidence of the party opposing the board's initial decision or
decision on reconsideration;
(ii) the statement and evidence of the MPERA; and
(d) The contested case hearing must be conducted
in Helena. The parties and their witnesses must appear in person unless, for
good cause shown, the hearing examiner determines otherwise.
(e) The hearing examiner shall enter proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law,
and order, with any necessary explanation, for review and final determination
by the board.
jurisdiction and authority of a hearing examiner terminates upon the entry of a
proposed order unless the board delegates further authority.
(2) Exceptions to proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and orders that
are allowed by statute must be filed with the MPERA and served upon opposing
counsel within 20 days of service of the proposed findings, conclusions and
order. Any response must be filed within 10 days of service of the exceptions.
(a) Briefs in support are not required, but if
filed, must be filed simultaneously with exceptions or responses.
(b) Requests for
oral argument must be in writing, and must be filed simultaneously with the
exceptions or responses.
(c) Date of service shall be the date indicated on
the appropriate certificate of service or certificate of mailing. The date of
filing shall be the date of actual delivery or the postmarked date of mailing.
(d) The board may request briefing,
additional briefing, or oral argument by the parties.
(3) If a quorum of the board hears the contested case, the board may use a hearing
examiner for procedural rulings and administrative purposes, and to assist in
the drafting of a final order. A final order so adopted will be the final
administrative decision of the board, subject only to judicial review.
(4) An attorney may be assigned to present a case
or to appear in any contested case to represent the interests of MPERA or the
(5) A contested case hearing, and any other proceeding before a hearings examiner,
will be recorded electronically unless a party notifies the hearing examiner no
later than 20 days prior to the proceeding that the party wants a stenographic
record. The party requiring a stenographic record must arrange and pay for the
(a) Any electronic or stenographic record shall be
transcribed on the request of any party. The cost of the transcription shall initially
be paid by the requesting party. A party who has a transcript prepared shall
provide a copy to any other party requesting it in exchange for the
proportional cost of transcribing the original and the necessary copies. A copy
must also be provided to the hearing examiner, at no cost.
(b) The party(ies) filing exceptions to the hearing examiner's proposed order must file the
original and a total of eight copies of the transcript with the board
only if exceptions have been filed to the hearing examiner's proposed findings
(c) If an electronic
recording of any hearing or proceeding is defective or cannot be transcribed,
the hearing examiner may reconstruct the record or the parties may reconstruct
the record by stipulation. The record so reconstructed will constitute the
record for determination and review of findings of fact.