1. Notification of Hearing
In the event the Board elects to hold a hearing, the complainant and respondent shall be notified. The parties shall be given at least thirty (30) days’ written notice by certified mail of the date, time, and location of the hearing. The Board staff shall arrange the hearing time and place and notify the parties and witnesses of such. The location of the hearing may be fixed at any site in the State of Georgia, in the Board’s discretion.
2. Participation of Complainant
The complainant shall appear at the hearing in person and may be represented by counsel. The Board may excuse the complainant from participation. In its sole discretion, the Board, upon advance notice, may allow or require the complainant to participate by way of a deposition, by video or telephone conference, or any combination thereof. If the complainant fails to appear, the complaint may be
dismissed for failure to prosecute.
3. Participation of Respondent
The respondent shall appear at the hearing in person and shall be given an opportunity to present his or her response after a presentation of the complainant’s case. Counsel may represent the respondent. In its sole discretion, the Board, upon advance notice, may allow or require the respondent to participate by way of a deposition, by video or telephone conference, or any combination thereof. If the
respondent refuses or fails to appear without just cause, the Board may take appropriate disciplinary or other action in the absence of such response.
4. Hearing Officer
The hearing shall be presided over by a hearing officer. The Board may appoint one of its members or an independent third party as a hearing officer to preside over the hearing. The hearing officer’s duties shall include making rulings on motions, filings, and objections and issuing a final recommendation to the Board. If the hearing officer is a member of the Board, the hearing officer may vote only if there
is a tie vote among the other voting members.
5. Hearing Procedure
The hearing officer shall establish the order of the hearing. At a minimum, the complainant and respondent shall be given fair opportunity to be heard and present witnesses, including reasonable cross-examination of adverse witnesses. If there are insufficient members of the Board to constitute a quorum, then the parties may waive the requirement of a quorum, or consent to the attendance by a member by
video or telephone conference, or both. Any such waiver shall be noted on the record.
6. Role of the Board
The Board may question parties or their witnesses at any time and will issue final findings of fact and conclusions of law.
7. Evidence; Burden and Standard of Proof
The Georgia rules of evidence shall apply but may be relaxed at the discretion of the hearing officer. At the hearing, the burden of proof is on the complainant to prove the alleged violation(s) by clear and convincing evidence.
Witnesses may be presented at a hearing by either party or by the Board. The Board shall issue subpoenas in blank to parties and their attorneys. It shall be the responsibility of the party or their attorney to serve subpoenas according to the terms of law. No hearing shall be delayed or continued for failure of a witness to attend unless a timely motion is made. Upon motion made, and for good cause shown, any witness may testify by video or telephone conference, or by deposition, provided that the right of cross-examination is preserved. Any person who testifies shall do so under oath.
The Board will bear the costs of recording and/or transcribing the hearing by a certified court reporter. Each party must pay for its own copy of the transcript, should it want one. The Board will bear any cost for the arrangement of space for the hearing. Otherwise, parties must bear their own costs in attending and participating in the hearing, including payment to counsel, costs of travel to and from the hearing, and any other expenses. Any party wishing to be declared indigent must make a motion setting forth the grounds for such a declaration at least ten (10) days before the hearing.
10. Executive Session
The Board may enter into executive session during or after the hearing to discuss findings or issues, or vote on issues presented during a hearing. Without limiting the preceding, the Board shall have the authority to exclude any or all persons during its deliberations on disciplinary proceedings.
After a hearing, the Board will issue within forty-five (45) days a final disposition of the matter, in the form of written findings of fact, conclusions of law, and final order. The Board, for good cause and in its sole discretion, may determine that the time should be extended. The disposition shall be sent via certified mail, with return receipt requested, to all parties at their addresses of record.
12. Informal Resolution of Complaint
Efforts to resolve the complaint informally may be initiated by the Board, the complainant, or the respondent at any time. Any resolution reached by the parties must be submitted to the Board for approval. Upon approval of any resolution reached informally, all parties shall be notified in writing of the resolution reached, and any hearing shall be canceled.
13. Petition for Voluntary Discipline
At any point prior to the hearing, a respondent may petition the Board in writing to accept a petition for voluntary discipline in lieu of a hearing. If the petition is accepted, the resulting order will include all undisputed facts, the violations found, and the sanction to be administered. The order will be signed and dated by the respondent and the chair of the Board, at which point it will become effective. Depending on the nature of the sanction imposed, the Board may choose to make the order public.