16 HELPFUL TIPS TO PREPARE FOR YOUR REFEREE HEARING PDF Print E-mail

SIXTEEN WAYS TO AVOID LOSING YOUR UNEMPLOYMENT APPEAL       Cool

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The following list covers the most common mistakes parties make in appeal cases.

1. File your appeal on time. An appeal to the Agency, or Board must be filed within 30 calendar days of the mailing date of the decision. There are no provisions for extension of time and if you file late, you face a heavy burden in proving you were prevented from filing on time Also, it is strongly recommended that you state clearly the reasons for the appeal. 

2. Prepare your case early and on the proper issues(s) You should identify the issue involved in the appeal and begin preparing for the hearing as soon as you learn of the appeal -either when you decide to appeal or when you receive a copy of another party's appeal.

Be careful not to overlook multiple issues in a decision.   YOUR CLAIM MAY INVOLVE MULTIPLE ISSUES!   BE SURE TO COVER EVERY ISSUE.   OUR LAWYERS MAKE SURE ALL ISSUES ARE COVERED, TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.  Mutliple issues may be combined, for example, restitution, voluntary leaving and availability could all be at issue in your case.   You must get a favorable decision on every issue, to get money!  Our Lawyers make sure your noticed case issues are well argued in your case.   GET YOUR ISSUES COVERED, CALL (1-888-PAYABLE).   Also check the hearing notice, as the referee may signal a need to consider a different section of law at the hearing than the issue the Agency noticed.   Our Lawyers know the issues, and make sure your issues are brought forward on your behalf.

Time is very important. Secure your documents and witnesses immediately. If you wait until you receive notice of the hearing to seek counsel, your attorney will have far less time to prepare.

3. Plan to get right to the point at the hearing. As you prepare your case, remember that a clear and concise presentation is generally better. Avoid drowning your main point in a cascade of background material. Concentrate on the legal issues which control eligibility. Be sure you know who has the burden of proof; it governs how much you need to present.

4. If you have a problem with the hearing date, request a new hearing date promptly. Unless you face a dire unanticipated emergency, you will not be granted a last-minute change in hearing date.

5. Make early requests to subpoena witnesses whose attendance you cannot control. Subpoenas are up to you to serve. A subpoena served on a witness the day of, or even the day before the hearing is probably unenforceable.

6. Don't subpoena witness(s) against you. This happens more than you might think. Be sure you know each witness's testimony before bringing them to the hearing. Do not count on an adverse witness turning friendly because he or she is subpoenaed or under oath at the hearing.

7. When in doubt, present testimony. First-hand testimony is always better than a written statement or document. Moreover, a valid hearsay objection to a document may cause the referee to discount the document completely.

8. Show up on time. Do not count on a referee waiting beyond the scheduled time for you to appear. If you have a last minute emergency or an unforeseen delay en route, contact the referee office immediately.

Follow the advice on the hearing notice to arrive early. You can review the Job Canter documents in advance and avoid facing a "surprise from the file" during the hearing.

9. Present the eyewitness. This is one of the most common mistakes. Offering a witness who has no firsthand knowledge of the event in question is a waste of time and could cost you the case.

10. Object to hearsay evidence of the other side. They have the right to object to any evidence of yours which is hearsay, so you should object to theirs.

11. Present the key document. Be prepared to leave it with the referee. Photocopies are acceptable but bring along the original in case the other side tries to challenge it. If you do not possess a key document, it can be subpoenaed in the same manner as a witness.

12. Summarize voluminous written material. Evidence is judged on quality, not quantity. Submitting a bewildering stack of papers can hurt you rather than help you. If you feel you must, then at least prepare a summary to help the referee and Board take proper note of the items. Be aware, however, that the other side has a right to challenge your summary and to examine the original material from which the summary was compiled.

13. In questioning your witness, avoid leading questions. A leading question is one which suggests the answer, often a "yes" or "no". These types of questions detract from the credibility of the witness. In eliciting the direct testimony of the your witness, ask short questions which allow the witness to relate a fact or describe an event in his or her own way. (You may ask leading questions when cross-examining a witness of the other party, however.)

14. Explain technical terms, occupational slang and strange customs of the trade. If it's not commonly understood outside of your business, trade or profession, explain it. Otherwise, you may confuse the referee, the Board and the courts (if it goes that far) and receive a disappointing decision.

15. Avoid excessive cross-examination. It is very rare for a party to make his or her case on cross-examination. More commonly, you can lose the case by unintentionally giving the witness the chance to repeat and elaborate upon all the adverse testimony just given. However, make sure any claimant statement, related to the issue being ruled on, and which is not considered factual, is refuted during the hearing.

16. Do not assume the referee knows every law enacted or every decision issued. You can reasonable assume the referee will know about a point of law in the unemployment field, but offering the referee copies of, or the citations to, unemployment court decisions related to your case would not hurt.

Statues and decisions outside of the unemployment field should be accurately cited, and a copy of the pertinent material provided if possible.

-- January 1996, Penn-Jersey Assn's "The Keystone"

 
 

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