What Authority Does MOAHR Have in this Process?
MOAHR ALJs handle contested cases from the time the Commission issues a notice of hearing, through the preparation of a proposed decision for the Commission. The Michigan Public Service Commission issues final orders in all its cases. The ALJs have the responsibility to set schedules and provide for the orderly conduct of the proceedings. Key steps in these contested cases include:
- The Prehearing Conference: At the prehearing conference, the ALJ considers petitions to intervene, sets a schedule for the remainder of the proceeding, provides for discovery, and may provide an opportunity for members of the public to make comments.
- Motion Hearings: When a party seeks a ruling from the ALJ on matters not resolved at the prehearing, such as a discovery dispute, a protective order, a limit on the scope of the proceeding, or a revision to the schedule, motion hearings are held to allow the parties to present oral argument in addition to any written arguments they have submitted. The ALJ may issue an oral or written ruling on the motion.
- Evidentiary Hearings: While testimony in most Commission cases is prefiled written testimony, evidentiary hearings are held to bind the testimony into the official record (transcript), to allow parties to cross-examine the witnesses submitting written testimony, and to consider the admission of other evidence in the form of exhibits. Consumer complaints are generally scheduled for evidentiary hearings without prefiled written testimony.
- Proposal for Decision: The ALJs typically prepare written Proposals for Decision (PFDs) that analyze the evidentiary record in light of arguments presented in briefs and reply briefs submitted by the parties, and contain both findings of fact and conclusions of law. Because the Commission issues the final decisions in all of its cases, a PFD also provides deadlines for the parties to file their objections to the PFD with the Commission (referred to as “Exceptions”) and to reply to any objections that are filed.
In handling mediations and arbitrations, the ALJs follow the provisions of administrative rules promulgated by the MPSC and MOAHR, R 484.701 et seq