Guidance for Telephone Hearings
The vast majority of administrative hearings are conducted by telephone conference. The basic procedures are the same, regardless whether the hearing is conducted in-person or by telephone, the ALJ will ensure that all parties are provided a fair hearing on the telephone. The information below provides some additional guidance to parties regarding issues unique to telephone hearings.
Calling In for the Telephone Hearing
At the time and date scheduled for your hearing, each party must call the toll-free phone number listed on the hearing notice instructions. PLEASE NOTE: The proper number to call is a toll-free number, beginning with 888, 855, 866, 877, and NOT the phone number for the ALJ that may also be listed on the hearing notice beginning with 515.
Once connected to the phone system, if the hearing has not yet started, the teleconference system will ask if the caller is the organizer. A party is not the organizer. Do not press 2. All parties will be put on hold until the ALJ enters the conference call; stay on the line until the ALJ enters the call.
It is each party's responsibility to call in for the hearing. The judge will not call the parties. If a party does not call using the instructions on the Notice of Hearing, the party will not be able to participate in the hearing. If a party has technical difficulties connecting at the time of hearing, please call (515) 281-6468. Do NOT call the ALJ directly because the ALJ will generally already be on the call and any call to the ALJ's phone number will likely reach the ALJ's voicemail.
Parties may call in as early as five minutes before the scheduled time of the hearing. (For example, if a hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m., a party may call as early as 8:55 a.m.). If a party calls in before the time of the hearing and receives a message that the conference is locked by the organizer, the ALJ is completing another hearing. Please hang up and call in again at the scheduled time of the hearing.
An ALJ will wait five minutes after the time the hearing is schedule to start to allow all parties to call in. If an appellant has not called in by five minutes after the hearin is scheduled to start, the ALJ may dismiss the appeal and the appellant may lose the right to participate in the matter.
Additional Considerations for the Hearing
A party can participate from any location where a telephone is available. This can be a home phone or someone else's phone. Parties should select a location that will be quiet during the call so that the party can hear and be heard during the hearing. Parties are discouraged from using cell phones or speaker phones to ensure that all parties can easily hear each other in the hearing and that a good quality recording is made. But if a party does use a cell phone, it is important to ensure that it is fully charged and getting good reception in the location where the call will be placed. A party may not participate in a hearing while driving.
If an appellant does not have a phone, he or she may be able to contact the Division or the agency to arrange for a location to participate in the hearing. For example, in cases appealed from the Department of Human Services, if requested at least five working days before the hearing from the agency worker, DHS will make arrangements for the appellant to participate from the local DHS county office or child support office.
If a party is represented by an attorney or being assisted by another person, that person will also need to call into the telephone number listed on the Notice of Hearing to participate in the hearing. The number can also be provided to witnesses who will testify in the hearing.
Like all administrative hearings conducted by the Division, telephone hearings are recorded. The telephone conference system begins recording the hearing automatically as soon as the conference call begins. Parties should be aware that any conversations occurring once the call begins will be recorded and may be public records, depending on the relevant law regarding confidentiality of the case.
In a telephone hearing it is particularly important that parties exchanged exhibits, evidence, or other documents prior to the hearing and have provided the documents to the ALJ prior to the hearing.
Requesting an In Person Hearing
A party may request an in-person hearing by filing a request at least five days before the hearing. In-person hearings will typically be conducted at the Division Offices in Des Moines. An ALJ may permit one party to appear in person and the other by telephone, upon that party's request.