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RULE §349.360Informal Proceedings

(a) The Board's policy is to encourage the resolution and early settlement of internal and external disputes, including contested cases, through voluntary settlement processes such as informal proceedings or alternative dispute resolution. Any matter within the Board's jurisdiction may be resolved informally by stipulation, agreed settlement, agreed order, dismissal or default.

(b) In disciplinary matters, the Commission shall offer the Certified Officer the opportunity to be heard. The offer may be made at any time prior to disposition and may be included on any notice required by statute or this chapter, or otherwise.

(c) Informal proceedings may be conducted in person, by authorized representative, or by electronic, telephonic or written communication.

(d) Informal proceedings shall be conducted pursuant to the following procedural standards:

  (1) the Certified Officer shall have a right to be represented by an attorney of record or authorized representative. At any time, should the Certified Officer choose to obtain representation by an attorney or authorized representative and advises staff of such choice, the conference will be discontinued;

  (2) the Certified Officer will be expected to answer questions concerning the allegations contained in the preliminary notice or formal charges, but may decline to answer any questions posed during the conference;

  (3) participation by the Certified Officer and Commission staff in the conference is voluntary and may be terminated by either party without prejudicing the right to proceed with a contested case. The Certified Officer will be expected to cooperate fully with the Commission staff to ensure that the Commission has all pertinent information relating to the complaint or formal charges against the Certified Officer; and

  (4) although, a verbatim transcript is not being kept of the informal conference, party admissions and outline notes may be used at a formal hearing if the matter is ultimately docketed as a formal proceeding at SOAH.

(e) Informal conferences may be conducted at any time by the Executive Director or designee.

(f) The Commission's General Counsel or designee shall participate in informal proceedings.

(g) Disposition of matters considered informally may be made at any time in an agreed order containing such terms as the Executive Director may deem reasonable and necessary. Except as to matters delegated to the Executive Director for ratification, said agreed order shall not be final and effective until the Board votes to accept the proposed disposition.

(h) In the event the Certified Officer fails to comply with the terms of the agreed order, formal disciplinary proceedings will be initiated or resumed.

(i) If disciplinary matters are not resolved informally, formal charges may be filed in accordance with §349.335 of this chapter and the case may be set for a hearing before SOAH in accordance with §349.370 of this chapter.

(j) Pre-docketing conferences may be conducted by the Executive Director or designee prior to SOAH acquiring jurisdiction over a contested case. The Executive Director or designee, unilaterally or at the request of any party, may direct the parties or their attorneys to appear before the Executive Director or designee at a specified time and place for a conference prior to the hearing for the purpose of:

  (1) clarifying and simplifying the issues;

  (2) considering the making of admissions or stipulations of fact or law;

  (3) reviewing the procedure governing the hearing;

  (4) limiting the number of witnesses whose testimony will be repetitious or duplicative; and

  (5) performing any act that may simplify the proceedings and disposing of the matters in controversy, including settling all or part of the issues in dispute pursuant to this section and §349.365 of this chapter.

Source Note: The provisions of this §349.360 adopted to be effective May 1, 2010, 35 TexReg 3289

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