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Basic Terms Used at a Hearing
We'll begin by explaining some of the terms used most often in a hearing:
An unemployment insurance Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is an attorney who works full-time for the State of Michigan, hearing and deciding cases involving unemployment compensation. His or her job is to review documents and to listen carefully to the statements of both sides at the hearing, and to decide what the facts are, based upon those statements and any other evidence. The ALJ may also question the witness(s).
Administrative Law Judge then decides how the law must be applied to those facts.
Parties are the people whose rights might be affected by the outcome of an unemployment compensation case. There may be three parties at the hearing: the claimant (the individual seeking the unemployment benefits), the employer (the business that is, or may be, charged for the payment of benefits, or whose tax rate or liability for taxes is in question), and the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA).
If a case gets to the Administrative Law Judge, it usually means that there is a disagreement about the previous UIA decision (redetermination). An employer may feel that the unemployment benefits should not be paid, or that the employer should not have to pay unemployment taxes, or that their tax rate is wrong. The claimant may feel that the UIA should not have denied his or her claim for benefits. The UIA may be at the hearing to support its previous rulings.
Evidence could be anything used by a party to convince the ALJ about the facts of the case. The most common type of evidence is called testimony which means statements made, under oath, at the hearing, by a party or one of the party's witnesses, who has first-hand knowledge of the events. Evidence can also be in written form, but there must be someone present at the hearing who can testify (give testimony) of their own knowledge about any documents. In reaching a decision later, the ALJ must decide how much importance to give to each statement or document admitted as evidence.
Witnesses are people who are brought or subpoenaed (ordered to appear) to the hearing by either party, to give testimony of facts that they personally know about, in order to help the party. It is usually not helpful to bring more than one witness to testify about the same facts.