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COA: Dealership not denied due process

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The Indiana Court of Appeals directly addressed for the first time today the due process implications of an administrative law judge conducting a hearing without the participation of a party who received notice but couldn't be contacted by telephone at the time of the hearing. The appellate court found a car dealership's due process hadn't been violated when it failed to participate in a telephone hearing with the administrative law judge and a former employee.

In Art Hill, Inc. v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and Terrence Horan, No. 93A02-0801-EX-34, Art Hill appealed the decision by the Unemployment Insurance Review Board to affirm the findings and conclusions of an administrative law judge who granted Terrence Horan's application for unemployment benefits.

Art Hill argued the review board erred in affirming the decision because it didn't participate in the hearing.

The Department of Workforce Development denied Horan's claim for unemployment benefits. After Horan filed a notice of appeal, the administrative law judge in Lafayette sent notice to Horan and Art Hill, who were in Gary, that the hearing would be held by telephone and both parties had to submit a number where they could be reached for the hearing. Art Hill called the administrative law judge's office two days before the hearing and gave a phone number with the extension 5353.

On the day of the hearing, the judge reached Horan but no one answered at the Art Hill number provided. The administrative law judge found the dealership failed to participate in the hearing and granted Horan's application. The review board affirmed the decision.

On appeal, Art Hill explained the 5353 extension didn't have a speakerphone so the dealership moved to a different number. It tried calling the administrative law judge's phone number but only got voicemail.

But the company failed to give reasonable notice that it could be reached at a different phone number and didn't leave someone at the original number who could transfer the call to the new number, wrote Judge Margret Robb. In addition, the company waited until 15 minutes after the hearing began to attempt to reach the judge.

Art Hill wasn't denied due process by not participating in the hearing, the Court of Appeals concluded. The appellate court turned to due process implications of the right to be present at a hearing in other contexts because it hadn't previously tackled the issue regarding a telephone hearing, and it saw no justification for treating the right to be present at an unemployment hearing any differently than the right to be present in any other context.

"Therefore, we hold that a party to an unemployment hearing may voluntarily waive the opportunity for a fair hearing where the party received actual notice of the hearing and failed to appear at or participate in the hearing," wrote Judge Robb.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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