(a) Requests for Adjudicatory Hearing. In addition to any information required by an applicable statute, regulation or procedure, a requester shall submit to the Corporate Secretary in writing the following:
(1) The name, address, telephone number, and (if applicable) the WSSC account number of the individual making the request; and
(2) The basis or explanation of the relief sought.
(b) Notice of the Adjudicatory Hearing.
(1) Upon receipt of a written request for a hearing, WSSC shall, pursuant to the applicable statute, regulation or procedure, appoint a Hearing Officer to conduct an adjudicatory hearing.
(2) Within approximately 10 business days of the receipt of the request, the Hearing Officer shall set the date for the adjudicatory hearing.
(3) The Hearing Officer shall mail to all interested parties notice of the hearing date, including a copy of the regulations codified in this chapter. The hearing date shall be no later than six months from the date of the written request.
(c) Appearance of Parties at Hearings – Representation.
(1) A party may represent himself or herself.
(2) A party may be represented by an attorney authorized to practice law in the State of Maryland, or, when authorized by law, appear through a representative who is not an attorney.
(d) Prehearing Conference.
(1) When appropriate, the Hearing Officer may hold a prehearing conference to resolve matters preliminary to the hearing.
(2) A prehearing conference may be convened to address the following matters:
(i) Factual and legal issues;
(iii) Requests for official notice;
(iv) Identification and exchange of documentary evidence;
(v) Admissibility of evidence;
(vi) Identification and qualification of witnesses;
(viii) Order of presentation;
(ix) Scheduling; and
(x) Any other matters that will promote the orderly and prompt conduct of the hearing.
(e) Adjudicatory Hearing Procedures.
(1) The Hearing Officer shall conduct a fair and impartial hearing, avoid unnecessary delay, and maintain order.
(2) The Hearing Officer shall conduct the hearing in such a manner so as to give all parties ample time to present their views.
(3) On a genuine issue of fact, each party is entitled to:
(i) Call witnesses;
(ii) Offer evidence;
(iii) Cross-examine any witness; and
(iv) Make opening and closing statements.
(4) The Hearing Officer, or if present, a court reporter, shall administer the following oath to the parties and witnesses:
Do you solemnly promise and affirm under the penalties of perjury that the testimony you are about to give in the matter now pending before WSSC shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
(5) The Hearing Officer shall determine the order in which the parties shall present their views regarding the subject matter, and he/she may admit hearsay evidence if credible and of sufficient probative force.
(6) Telephone Hearings.
(i) A party who seeks a hearing by telephone shall request it no later than seven business days after the notice of the hearing is mailed. The Hearing Officer may, upon good cause shown, allow a late request for a telephone hearing.
(ii) Unless a party objects and establishes good cause for the objection, and if each party has an opportunity to participate in and hear the entire proceeding, the Hearing Officer may conduct all or part of the hearing by telephone or other similar electronic means.
(iii) The Hearing Officer shall ensure that the substantive and procedural rights of the parties are protected, subject only to the limitations of the physical arrangement.
(iv) A party shall ensure that any documentary evidence the party seeks to offer is delivered to all parties at least five business days before the hearing.
(v) The Hearing Officer may consider the following actions as a failure to appear and grounds for default if the conditions exist for more than 15 minutes after the scheduled time of the hearing:
1. Failure to answer the telephone;
2. Failure to free the telephone for a hearing; or
3. Failure to be ready to proceed with the hearing as scheduled.
(7) The Hearing Officer has the authority to:
(i) Rule upon offers of proof and receive relevant and material evidence;
(ii) Consider and rule upon all procedural and other motions appropriate to the proceeding, including motions for summary disposition if there are no issues of material fact and the party is entitled to prevail as a matter of law;
(iii) Examine witnesses;
(iv) Maintain order, limit unduly repetitious testimony and/or cross-examination, and limit the time for presentations;
(v) Identify and submit issues of law to the General Counsel who may, at the Hearing Officer’s request, participate in the hearing by providing an attorney as legal advisor to the Hearing Officer. An attorney acting as legal advisor to the Hearing Officer in a case may not also present the case before the Hearing Officer;
(vi) Grant a continuance for good cause shown. Except for emergency requests, a party seeking a postponement shall file such a request in writing with the Hearing Officer and all parties five business days before the scheduled hearing. For purposes of this provision, an emergency is a sudden, unforeseen occurrence requiring immediate attention which arises within five business days of the hearing. In the event of an emergency, a party may request a postponement by telephone;
(vii) Issue a final order of default; and
(viii) Make rulings on the admissibility of evidence, the propriety of cross-examination, and other procedural matters.
(8) The Hearing Officer’s rulings shall be final and shall appear in the record. Parties shall be presumed to have taken exception to an adverse ruling.
(9) The Hearing Officer may permit the parties to submit pre- or post-hearing memoranda within the time allotted by the Hearing Officer. A party who submits such memoranda shall provide a copy to all other parties.
(10) If a party, upon receiving proper notice, fails to attend or participate in a hearing, pretrial conference or other proceeding, the Hearing Officer may:
(i) Proceed in that party’s absence; or
(ii) Enter a final order of default, which the Hearing Officer may vacate for good cause shown if the aggrieved party files an appropriate motion within 30 days of mailing of the order of default. (REG-LGS-GC-2014-002 § V.)