(1) The contested case hearing shall be conducted before the decision-making authority of the agency or a hearing officer designated in accordance with ARM 1.3.218.
(2) The presiding officer must ensure that all parties are afforded an opportunity to respond and present evidence and argument on all issues involved.
(3) The hearing must be recorded on an electronic sound recorder (tape recorder, digital sound recorder, or other electronic sound recorder) unless either party demands a stenographic record. The cost of a stenographic record must be paid by the requesting party.
(4) Absent a determination by the presiding officer that the interests of justice require otherwise, the order of hearing is as follows:
(a) any opening statements requested or allowed by the presiding officer;
(b) presentation of evidence by the party asserting a claim for relief (the challenging party);
(c) cross examination by the opposing party;
(d) presentation of evidence by the opposing party;
(e) cross examination by the challenging party; and
(f) rebuttal testimony.
(5) Exhibits must be marked and must identify the person offering the exhibits. The exhibits shall be preserved by the agency as part of the record of the proceedings.
(6) The presiding officer may hear closing arguments, request supporting briefs, and/or order a schedule for parties to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.
(7) The presiding officer may grant recesses or continue the hearing.
(8) The party challenging the agency action bears the burden of proof.