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What Does a Hearing Examiner Do?

Kenneth W. Michael Wills
Kenneth W. Michael Wills

A hearing examiner usually works for a governmental organization and presides over and renders decisions on legal cases, often of an administrative nature. Hearing examiners can be found working in nearly every jurisdiction from governments of small towns to national and international governmental organizations. Qualifications required can range from an undergraduate degree in legal studies to a practicing attorney, depending on the organization's needs. As part of his or her duties, the hearing examiner will conduct investigations, weigh evidence, conduct legal research, and explain the reasons behind his or her decisions. Additionally, the job may entail supervisory responsibilities, analysis of legal statutes, and be called upon to make recommendations for changes to current law.

First and foremost, a hearing examiner owns the responsibility to protect the due process of all parties involved throughout the course of proceedings. This includes protecting confidentially, preserving evidence, and applying legal statutes fairly and efficiently for all participants, while refraining from participation in hearings where he or she might have a personal stake or interest. In addition, the hearing examiner is often expected to act in accordance with all legal statutes he or she applies to an administrative hearing. Ethical demonstration both professionally and personally are expected in all actions in which the examiner is involved. Part of ensuring due process, the examiner is also responsible for informing all parties involved of their rights and responsibilities regarding the hearing process.

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Although duties can vary considerably depending on the type of organization the hearing examiner represents, many duties are quite similar, only applied according to the legal statutes under his or her purview. For example, a traffic hearing examiner may preside over administrative hearings related to traffic offenses, while a human rights examiner might deal will complex cases on the international level across multiple jurisdictions. Although qualifications for the position can vary significantly, in most cases experience dealing with legal statutes as applied within the position is usually required.

With most hearings conducted by a hearing examiner, decisions are not made at the actual hearing. Usual course of the process involves listening to the testimony, examining the available evidence, and following up with any required investigations regarding the matter under consideration. Upon completion, the examiner will deliberate on the case, conduct all required legal research, and arrive at either a conclusion or recommendation as required. He or she will record the conclusion or recommendations into a written report, citing all related facts, findings and applicable legal statutes.

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