§ 131.54. Manner and conduct of hearings.

 (a)  The judge will conduct fair and impartial hearings and maintain order. At the discretion of the judge, the hearings may be conducted by telephone or other electronic means if the parties do not object. Disregard by participants or counsel of record of the rulings of the judge shall be noted on the record, and if the judge deems it appropriate, will be made the subject of a written report to the Director of Adjudication together with recommendations.

 (b)  If the participants or counsel are guilty of disrespectful, disorderly or contumacious language or conduct in connection with a hearing, the judge may suspend the hearing or take other action as the judge deems appropriate, including the submission of a written report to the Director of Adjudication together with recommendations.

 (c)  A witness whose identity has not been revealed as provided in this chapter may not be permitted to testify on behalf of the defaulting party unless the testimony is allowed within the judge’s discretion.

 (d)  In addition to subsections (a)—(c), the judge may proceed under §  131.13(m) (relating to continuances or postponements of hearings).

 (e)  Subsections (a)—(d) supersede 1 Pa. Code § §  31.21—31.23, 31.27 and 31.28 and also supersede 1 Pa. Code Chapter 35, Subchapter E.

Authority

   The provisions of this §  131.54 amended under sections 401.1 and 435(a) and (c) of the Workers’ Compensation Act (77 P. S. § §  710 and 991(a) and (c)); section 2205 of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P. S. §  565); and section 414 of The Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act (77 P. S. §  1514).

Source

   The provisions of this §  131.54 adopted March 29, 1991, effective March 30, 1991, 21 Pa.B. 1401; amended December 6, 2002, effective December 7, 2002, 32 Pa.B. 6043; amended October 16, 2009, effective October 17, 2009, 39 Pa.B. 6038. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (313908).

Notes of Decisions

   Referees

   The referee, who held a temporary appointment as a professor for the employer appearing in this matter, had a substantial enough relationship with the employer so as to require the referee’s recusal as the relationship created an appearance of a conflict of interest that placed the impartiality of the referee in question and tainted the proceedings. Suprock v. Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board, 657 A.2d 1337 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995).

   These regulations governing workers’ compensation hearings require a referee to conduct a fair and impartial hearing; however, the regulations do not delineate when a referee should be recused nor do they indicate how to challenge a referee’s decision that they can indeed be fair and impartial. Suprock v. Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board, 657 A.2d 1337 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1995).



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