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Title 16: Commercial Practices
§3.41 General hearing rules.
§3.42 Presiding officials.
§3.45 In camera orders.
§3.46 Proposed findings, conclusions, and order.
§3.41 General hearing rules.
(a) Public hearings. All hearings in adjudicative proceedings shall be public unless an in camera order is entered by the Administrative Law Judge pursuant to §3.45(b) of this chapter or unless otherwise ordered by the Commission.
(b) Expedition. Hearings shall proceed with all reasonable expedition, and, insofar as practicable, shall be held at one place and shall continue, except for brief intervals of the sort normally involved in judicial proceedings, without suspension until concluded. The hearing will take place on the date specified in the notice accompanying the complaint, pursuant to §3.11(b)(4), and should be limited to no more than 210 hours. The Commission, upon a showing of good cause, may order a later date for the evidentiary hearing to commence or extend the number of hours for the hearing. Consistent with the requirements of expedition:
(1) The Administrative Law Judge may order hearings at more than one place and may grant a reasonable recess at the end of a case-in-chief for the purpose of discovery deferred during the prehearing procedure if the Administrative Law Judge determines that such recess will materially expedite the ultimate disposition of the proceeding.
(2) When actions involving a common question of law or fact are pending before the Administrative Law Judge, the Commission or the Administrative Law Judge may order a joint hearing of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; the Commission or the Administrative Law Judge may order all the actions consolidated; and the Commission or the Administrative Law Judge may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.
(3) When separate hearings will be conducive to expedition and economy, the Commission or the Administrative Law Judge may order a separate hearing of any claim, or of any separate issue, or of any number of claims or issues.
(4) Each side shall be allotted no more than half of the trial time within which to present its opening statements, in limine motions, all arguments excluding the closing argument, direct or cross examinations, or other evidence.
(5) Each side shall be permitted to make an opening statement that is no more than 2 hours in duration.
(6) Each side shall be permitted to make a closing argument no later than 5 days after the last filed proposed findings. The closing argument shall last no longer than 2 hours.
(c) Rights of parties. Every party, except intervenors, whose rights are determined under §3.14, shall have the right of due notice, cross-examination, presentation of evidence, objection, motion, argument, and all other rights essential to a fair hearing.
(d) Adverse witnesses. An adverse party, or an officer, agent, or employee thereof, and any witness who appears to be hostile, unwilling, or evasive, may be interrogated by leading questions and may also be contradicted and impeached by the party calling him or her.
(e) Requests for an order requiring a witness to testify or provide other information and granting immunity under 18 U.S.C. 6002 shall be disposed of in accordance with §3.39.
(f) Collateral federal court actions. (1) The pendency of a collateral federal court action that relates to the administrative adjudication shall not stay the proceeding:
(i) Unless a court of competent jurisdiction, or the Commission for good cause, so directs; or
(ii) Except as provided in §3.26.
(2) A stay shall toll any deadlines set by the rules.
[74 FR 1830, Jan. 13, 2009, as amended at 80 FR 15162, Mar. 23, 2015]
§3.42 Presiding officials.
(a) Who presides. Hearings in adjudicative proceedings shall be presided over by a duly qualified Administrative Law Judge or by the Commission or one or more members of the Commission sitting as Administrative Law Judges; and the term Administrative Law Judge as used in this part means and applies to the Commission or any of its members when so sitting.
(b) How assigned. The presiding Administrative Law Judge shall be designated by the Chief Administrative Law Judge or, when the Commission or one or more of its members preside, by the Commission, who shall notify the parties of the Administrative Law Judge designated.
(c) Powers and duties. Administrative Law Judges shall have the duty to conduct fair and impartial hearings, to take all necessary action to avoid delay in the disposition of proceedings, and to maintain order. They shall have all powers necessary to that end, including the following:
(1) To administer oaths and affirmations;
(2) To issue subpoenas and orders requiring answers to questions;
(3) To take depositions or to cause depositions to be taken;
(4) To compel admissions, upon request of a party or on their own initiative;
(5) To rule upon offers of proof and receive evidence;
(6) To regulate the course of the hearings and the conduct of the parties and their counsel therein;
(7) To hold conferences for settlement, simplification of the issues, or any other proper purpose;
(8) To consider and rule upon, as justice may require, all procedural and other motions appropriate in an adjudicative proceeding, including motions to open defaults;
(9) To make and file initial decisions;
(10) To certify questions to the Commission for its determination;
(11) To reject written submissions that fail to comply with rule requirements, or deny in camera status without prejudice until a party complies with all relevant rules; and
(12) To take any action authorized by the rules in this part or in conformance with the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act as restated and incorporated in title 5, U.S.C.
(d) Suspension of attorneys by Administrative Law Judge. The Administrative Law Judge shall have the authority, for good cause stated on the record, to suspend or bar from participation in a particular proceeding any attorney who shall refuse to comply with his directions, or who shall be guilty of disorderly, dilatory, obstructionist, or contumacious conduct, or contemptuous language in the course of such proceeding. Any attorney so suspended or barred may appeal to the Commission in accordance with the provisions of §3.23(a). The appeal shall not operate to suspend the hearing unless otherwise ordered by the Administrative Law Judge or the Commission; in the event the hearing is not suspended, the attorney may continue to participate therein pending disposition of the appeal.
(e) Substitution of Administrative Law Judge. In the event of the substitution of a new Administrative Law Judge for the one originally designated, any motion predicated upon such substitution shall be made within five (5) days thereafter.
(f) Interference. In the performance of their adjudicative functions, Administrative Law Judges shall not be responsible to or subject to the supervision or direction of any officer, employee, or agent engaged in the performance of investigative or prosecuting functions for the Commission, and all direction by the Commission to Administrative Law Judges concerning any adjudicative proceedings shall appear in and be made a part of the record.
(g) Disqualification of Administrative Law Judges. (1) When an Administrative Law Judge deems himself disqualified to preside in a particular proceeding, he shall withdraw therefrom by notice on the record and shall notify the Director of Administrative Law Judges of such withdrawal.
(2) Whenever any party shall deem the Administrative Law Judge for any reason to be disqualified to preside, or to continue to preside, in a particular proceeding, such party may file with the Secretary a motion addressed to the Administrative Law Judge to disqualify and remove him, such motion to be supported by affidavits setting forth the alleged grounds for disqualification. If the Administrative Law Judge does not disqualify himself within ten (10) days, he shall certify the motion to the Commission, together with any statement he may wish to have considered by the Commission. The Commission shall promptly determine the validity of the grounds alleged, either directly or on the report of another Administrative Law Judge appointed to conduct a hearing for that purpose.
(3) Such motion shall be filed at the earliest practicable time after the participant learns, or could reasonably have learned, of the alleged grounds for disqualification.
(h) Failure to comply with Administrative Law Judge's directions. Any party who refuses or fails to comply with a lawfully issued order or direction of an Administrative Law Judge may be considered to be in contempt of the Commission. The circumstances of any such neglect, refusal, or failure, together with a recommendation for appropriate action, shall be promptly certified by the Administrative Law Judge to the Commission. The Commission may make such orders in regard thereto as the circumstances may warrant.
[32 FR 8449, June 13, 1967, as amended at 37 FR 5609, Mar. 17, 1972; 41 FR 8340, Feb. 26, 1976; 43 FR 56868, Dec. 4, 1978; 46 FR 45750, Sept. 15, 1981; 50 FR 53306, Dec. 31, 1985; 66 FR 17629, Apr. 3, 2001; 80 FR 15162, Mar. 23, 2015]
(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]
(a) Reporting and transcription. Hearings shall be stenographically reported and transcribed by the official reporter of the Commission under the supervision of the Administrative Law Judge, and the original transcript shall be a part of the record and the sole official transcript. Upon a motion by any party, for good cause shown the Administrative Law Judge may order that the live oral testimony of all witnesses be video recorded digitally, at the expense of the moving party, and in such cases the video recording and the written transcript of the testimony shall be made part of the record. If a video recording is so ordered, the moving party shall not pay or retain any person or entity to perform such recording other than the reporter designated by the Commission to transcribe the proceeding, except by order of the Administrative Law Judge upon a finding of good cause. In any order allowing for video recording by a person or entity other than the Commission's designated reporter, the Administrative Law Judge shall prescribe standards and procedures for the video recording to ensure that it is a complete and accurate record of the witnesses' testimony. Copies of the written transcript and video recording are available from the reporter at rates not to exceed the maximum rates fixed by contract between the Commission and the reporter. Copies of a video recording made by a person or entity other than the reporter shall be available at the same rates, or no more than the actual cost of duplication, whichever is higher.
(b) Corrections. Corrections of the official transcript may be made only when they involve errors affecting substance and then only in the manner herein provided. Corrections ordered by the Administrative Law Judge or agreed to in a written stipulation signed by all counsel and parties not represented by counsel, and approved by the Administrative Law Judge, shall be included in the record, and such stipulations, except to the extent they are capricious or without substance, shall be approved by the Administrative Law Judge. Corrections shall not be ordered by the Administrative Law Judge except upon notice and opportunity for the hearing of objections. Such corrections shall be made by the official reporter by furnishing substitute type pages, under the usual certificate of the reporter, for insertion in the official record. The original uncorrected pages shall be retained in the files of the Commission.
(c) Closing of the hearing record. Upon completion of the evidentiary hearing, the Administrative Law Judge shall issue an order closing the hearing record after giving the parties 3 business days to determine if the record is complete or needs to be supplemented. The Administrative Law Judge shall retain the discretion to permit or order correction of the record as provided in §3.44(b).
[74 FR 1832, Jan. 13, 2009, as amended at 76 FR 52252, Aug. 22, 2011]
§3.45 In camera orders.
(a) Definition. Except as hereinafter provided, material made subject to an in camera order will be kept confidential and not placed on the public record of the proceeding in which it was submitted. Only respondents, their counsel, authorized Commission personnel, and court personnel concerned with judicial review may have access thereto, provided that the Administrative Law Judge, the Commission and reviewing courts may disclose such in camera material to the extent necessary for the proper disposition of the proceeding.
(b) In camera treatment of material. A party or third party may obtain in camera treatment for material, or portions thereof, offered into evidence only by motion to the Administrative Law Judge. Parties who seek to use material obtained from a third party subject to confidentiality restrictions must demonstrate that the third party has been given at least 10 days notice of the proposed use of such material. Each such motion must include an attachment containing a copy of each page of the document in question on which in camera or otherwise confidential excerpts appear. The Administrative Law Judge shall order that such material, whether admitted or rejected, be placed in camera only after finding that its public disclosure will likely result in a clearly defined, serious injury to the person, partnership, or corporation requesting in camera treatment or after finding that the material constitutes sensitive personal information. “Sensitive personal information” shall include, but shall not be limited to, an individual's Social Security number, taxpayer identification number, financial account number, credit card or debit card number, driver's license number, state-issued identification number, passport number, date of birth (other than year), and any sensitive health information identifiable by individual, such as an individual's medical records. For material other than sensitive personal information, a finding that public disclosure will likely result in a clearly defined, serious injury shall be based on the standard articulated in H.P. Hood & Sons, Inc., 58 F.T.C. 1184, 1188 (1961); see also Bristol-Myers Co., 90 F.T.C. 455, 456 (1977), which established a three-part test that was modified by General Foods Corp., 95 F.T.C. 352, 355 (1980). The party submitting material for which in camera treatment is sought must provide, for each piece of such evidence and affixed to such evidence, the name and address of any person who should be notified in the event that the Commission intends to disclose in camera information in a final decision. No material, or portion thereof, offered into evidence, whether admitted or rejected, may be withheld from the public record unless it falls within the scope of an order issued in accordance with this section, stating the date on which in camera treatment will expire, and including:
(1) A description of the material;
(2) A statement of the reasons for granting in camera treatment; and
(3) A statement of the reasons for the date on which in camera treatment will expire, except in the case of sensitive personal information, which shall be accorded permanent in camera treatment unless disclosure or an expiration date is required or provided by law. For in camera material other than sensitive personal information, an expiration date may not be omitted except in unusual circumstances, in which event the order shall state with specificity the reasons why the need for confidentiality of the material, or portion thereof at issue is not likely to decrease over time, and any other reasons why such material is entitled to in camera treatment for an indeterminate period. If an in camera order is silent as to duration, without explanation, then it will expire 3 years after its date of issuance. Material subject to an in camera order shall be segregated from the public record and filed in a sealed envelope, or other appropriate container, bearing the title, the docket number of the proceeding, the notation “In Camera Record under §3.45,” and the date on which in camera treatment expires. If the Administrative Law Judge has determined that in camera treatment should be granted for an indeterminate period, the notation should state that fact. Parties are not required to provide documents subject to in camera treatment, including documents obtained from third parties, to any individual or entity other than the Administrative Law Judge, counsel for other parties, and, during an appeal, the Commission or a federal court.
(c) Release of in camera material. In camera material constitutes part of the confidential records of the Commission and is subject to the provisions of §4.11 of this chapter.
(d) Briefs and other submissions referring to in camera or confidential information. Parties shall not disclose information that has been granted in camera status pursuant to §3.45(b) or is subject to confidentiality protections pursuant to a protective order in the public version of proposed findings, briefs, or other documents. This provision does not preclude references in such proposed findings, briefs, or other documents to in camera or other confidential information or general statements based on the content of such information.
(e) When in camera or confidential information is included in briefs and other submissions. If a party includes specific information that has been granted in camera status pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section or is subject to confidentiality protections pursuant to a protective order in any document filed in a proceeding under this part, the party shall file 2 versions of the document. A complete version shall be marked “In Camera” or “Subject to Protective Order,” as appropriate, on every page and shall be filed with the Secretary and served by the party on the other parties in accordance with the Commission's rules. Submitters of in camera or other confidential material should mark any such material in the complete versions of their submissions in a conspicuous matter, such as with highlighting or bracketing. References to in camera or confidential material must be supported by record citations to relevant evidentiary materials and associated Administrative Law Judge in camera or other confidentiality rulings to confirm that in camera or other confidential treatment is warranted for such material. In addition, the document must include an attachment containing a copy of each page of the document in question on which in camera or otherwise confidential excerpts appear, and providing the name and address of any person who should be notified of the Commission's intent to disclose in a final decision any of the in camera or otherwise confidential information in the document. Any time period within which these rules allow a party to respond to a document shall run from the date the party is served with the complete version of the document. An expurgated version of the document, marked “Public Record” on every page and omitting the in camera and confidential information and attachment that appear in the complete version, shall be filed with the Secretary within 5 days after the filing of the complete version, unless the Administrative Law Judge or the Commission directs otherwise, and shall be served by the party on the other parties in accordance with the rules in this part. The expurgated version shall indicate any omissions with brackets or ellipses, and its pagination and depiction of text on each page shall be identical to that of the in camera version.
(f) When in camera or confidential information is included in rulings or recommendations of the Administrative Law Judge. If the Administrative Law Judge includes in any ruling or recommendation information that has been granted in camera status pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section or is subject to confidentiality protections pursuant to a protective order, the Administrative Law Judge shall file 2 versions of the ruling or recommendation. A complete version shall be marked “In Camera” or “Subject to Protective Order,” as appropriate, on every page and shall be served upon the parties. The complete version will be placed in the in camera record of the proceeding. An expurgated version, to be filed within 5 days after the filing of the complete version, shall omit the in camera and confidential information that appears in the complete version, shall be marked “Public Record” on every page, shall be served upon the parties, and shall be included in the public record of the proceeding.
(g) Provisional in camera rulings. The Administrative Law Judge may make a provisional grant of in camera status to materials if the showing required in §3.45(b) cannot be made at the time the material is offered into evidence but the Administrative Law Judge determines that the interests of justice would be served by such a ruling. Within 20 days of such a provisional grant of in camera status, the party offering the evidence or an interested third party must present a motion to the Administrative Law Judge for a final ruling on whether in camera treatment of the material is appropriate pursuant to §3.45(b). If no such motion is filed, the Administrative Law Judge may either exclude the evidence, deny in camera status, or take such other action as is appropriate.
[74 FR 1832, Jan. 13, 2009, as amended at 76 FR 52253, Aug. 22, 2011; 80 FR 15162, Mar. 3, 2015]
§3.46 Proposed findings, conclusions, and order.
(a) General. Within 21 days of the closing of the hearing record, each party may file with the Secretary for consideration of the Administrative Law Judge proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and rule or order, together with reasons therefor and briefs in support thereof. Such proposals shall be in writing, shall be served upon all parties, and shall contain adequate references to the record and authorities relied on. If a party includes in the proposals information that has been granted in camera status pursuant to §3.45(b), the party shall file 2 versions of the proposals in accordance with the procedures set forth in §3.45(e). Reply findings of fact, conclusions of law, and briefs may be filed by each party within 10 days of service of the initial proposed findings.
(b) Exhibit index. The first statement of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law filed by a party shall include an index listing for each exhibit offered by the party and received in evidence:
(1) The exhibit number, followed by
(2) The exhibit's title or a brief description if the exhibit is untitled;
(3) The transcript page at which the Administrative Law Judge ruled on the exhibit's admissibility or a citation to any written order in which such ruling was made;
(4) The transcript pages at which the exhibit is discussed;
(5) An identification of any other exhibit which summarizes the contents of the listed exhibit, or of any other exhibit of which the listed exhibit is a summary;
(6) A cross-reference, by exhibit number, to any other portions of that document admitted as a separate exhibit on motion by any other party; and
(7) A statement whether the exhibit has been accorded in camera treatment, and a citation to the in camera ruling.
(c) Witness index. The first statement of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law filed by a party shall also include an index to the witnesses called by that party, to include for each witness:
(1) The name of the witness;
(2) A brief identification of the witness;
(3) The transcript pages at which any testimony of the witness appears; and
(4) A statement whether the witness testimony has been accorded in camera treatment, and a citation to the in camera ruling.
(d) Stipulated indices. As an alternative to the filing of separate indices, the parties are encouraged to stipulate to joint exhibit and witness indices at the time the first statement of proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law is due to be filed.
(e) Rulings. The record shall show the Administrative Law Judge's ruling on each proposed finding and conclusion, except when the order disposing of the proceeding otherwise informs the parties of the action taken.
[74 FR 1833, Jan. 13, 2009, as amended at 80 FR 15162, Mar. 23, 2015]