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Title 16: Commercial Practices
(a) Burden of proof. Counsel representing the Commission, or any person who has filed objections sufficient to warrant the holding of an adjudicative hearing pursuant to §3.13, shall have the burden of proof, but the proponent of any factual proposition shall be required to sustain the burden of proof with respect thereto.
(b) Admissibility. Relevant, material, and reliable evidence shall be admitted. Irrelevant, immaterial, and unreliable evidence shall be excluded. Evidence, even if relevant, may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or if the evidence would be misleading, or based on considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. Evidence that constitutes hearsay may be admitted if it is relevant, material, and bears satisfactory indicia of reliability so that its use is fair. Hearsay is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. If otherwise meeting the standards for admissibility described in this paragraph, depositions, investigational hearings, prior testimony in Commission or other proceedings, expert reports, and any other form of hearsay, shall be admissible and shall not be excluded solely on the ground that they are or contain hearsay. However, absent the consent of the parties, before admitting prior testimony (including expert reports) from other proceedings where either the Commission or respondent did not participate, except for other proceedings where the Commission and at least one respondent did participate, the Administrative Law Judge must make a finding upon the motion of a party seeking the admission of such evidence that the prior testimony would not be duplicative, would not present unnecessary hardship to a party or delay to the proceedings, and would aid in the determination of the matter. Statements or testimony by a party-opponent, if relevant, shall be admitted.
(c) Admissibility of third party documents. Extrinsic evidence of authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility of documents received from third parties is not required with respect to the original or a duplicate of a domestic record of regularly conducted activity by that third party that otherwise meets the standards of admissibility described in paragraph (b) if accompanied by a written declaration of its custodian or other qualified person, in a manner complying with any Act of Congress or rule prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority, certifying that the record:
(1) Was made at or near the time of the occurrence of the matters set forth by, or from information transmitted by, a person with knowledge of those matters;
(2) Was kept in the course of the regularly conducted activity; and
(3) Was made by the regularly conducted activity as a regular practice.
(d) Presentation of evidence. (1) A party is entitled to present its case or defense by sworn oral testimony and documentary evidence, to submit rebuttal evidence, and to conduct such cross-examination as, in the discretion of the Commission or the Administrative Law Judge, may be required for a full and true disclosure of the facts.
(2) The Administrative Law Judge shall exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to—
(i) Make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth;
(ii) Avoid needless consumption of time; and
(iii) Protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.
(3) As respondents are in the best position to determine the nature of documents generated by such respondents and which come from their own files, the burden of proof is on the respondent to introduce evidence to rebut a presumption that such documents are authentic and kept in the regular course of business.
(e) Information obtained in investigations. Any documents, papers, books, physical exhibits, or other materials or information obtained by the Commission under any of its powers may be disclosed by counsel representing the Commission when necessary in connection with adjudicative proceedings and may be offered in evidence by counsel representing the Commission in any such proceeding
(f) Official notice. “Official notice” may be taken of any material fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either generally known within the Commission's expertise or capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. If official notice is requested or is taken of a material fact not appearing in the evidence in the record, the parties, upon timely request, shall be afforded an opportunity to disprove such noticed fact.
(g) Objections. Objections to evidence shall timely and briefly state the grounds relied upon, but the transcript shall not include argument or debate thereon except as ordered by the Administrative Law Judge. Rulings on all objections shall appear in the record.
(h) Exceptions. Formal exception to an adverse ruling is not required.
(i) Excluded evidence. When an objection to a question propounded to a witness is sustained, the questioner may make a specific offer of what he or she expects to prove by the answer of the witness, or the Administrative Law Judge may, in his or her discretion, receive and report the evidence in full. Rejected exhibits, adequately marked for identification, shall be retained in the record so as to be available for consideration by any reviewing authority.
[74 FR 1831, Jan. 13, 2009, as amended at 76 FR 52252, Aug. 22, 2011]