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RULE §159.209Participation by Telephone or Videoconference

(a) Consent of the parties. The judge may, with consent of the parties and if SOAH has been notified of a telephone or videoconference hearing request at least 14 days prior to the hearing date, conduct all or part of the hearing on the merits by telephone or videoconference if each participant in the hearing has an opportunity to participate in and hear the entire proceeding. The judge may conduct all or part of a hearing on preliminary matters by telephone or videoconference, on the judge's own motion, if each participant has an opportunity to participate in and hear the entire proceeding.

(b) Before a witness is allowed to give testimony by telephone, the judge will confirm that the witness is the person he or she has been represented to be.

(c) Procedural Rights and Duties. All substantive and procedural rights and duties apply to telephone or videoconference hearings, subject only to the limitations of the physical arrangement. The parties shall notify SOAH of their telephone or videoconference numbers for the purpose of their appearances at the hearing. The parties shall contact their respective witnesses to assure their availability at the hearing.

(d) Documentary evidence. To be offered in a telephone or videoconference hearing, copies of exhibits should be marked and must be filed with SOAH and all parties no later than two business days prior to the scheduled hearing, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. If a witness, in preparation for or during testimony, reviews any document that has not been prefiled and the opposing party requests an opportunity to review the document, the judge may go off the record and allow the witness to read the document to the opposing party.

(e) Default. For a telephone or videoconference hearing, the following may be considered a failure to appear and grounds for default, if the conditions exist for more than ten minutes after the scheduled time for hearing:

  (1) failure to answer the telephone or videoconference line;

  (2) failure to free the line for the proceeding; or

  (3) failure to be ready to proceed with the hearing or a prehearing or post-hearing conference, as scheduled.

Source Note: The provisions of this §159.209 adopted to be effective January 20, 2009, 34 TexReg 334

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