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The Process

The Process:
Under Ordinance 14, Section 13.f.2. the Hearings Office issues notices to the parties asking them to submit documents and notifying them of their right to review all documents within their files. The parties have the right to be represented by counsel or lay advocates who are admitted to practice before the Tribal Court and may call witnesses and present evidence at the hearings. A certified record of all prehearing conferences and hearings is made. Following the hearings, the Hearings Officer makes recommendations to the Tribal Certifier who makes the final enrollment decision. Final enrollment decisions by the Certifier may be appealed to Tribal Court and the Tribal Court of Appeals.

These standards apply to the hearings officer who is appointed by Tribal Council pursuant to Section 13 of Ordinance 14 to serve in the Office of Administrative Hearings (Hearings Office). The standards are designed to promote honesty, integrity and impartiality in fulfilling the duties assigned to the hearings officer by the Ordinance.

Impartiality. The Hearings Officer shall conduct hearings in an impartial manner. The concept of Hearings Officer impartiality is central to the administrative process created by Ordinance 14. A Hearings Officer shall hear only those matters in which it is possible to remain impartial and even-handed. If at any time a Hearings Officer is unable to hear a case in an impartial manner, the Hearings Officer is obligated to withdraw.

Conflict of Interest. A conflict of interest is an involvement or relationship which might create an impression of possible bias or could reasonably be seen as raising a question about impartiality. A Hearings Officer shall promptly disclose all actual and potential conflicts of interest reasonably known to the Hearings Officer and shall decline to hear the case. If a Hearings Officer has a doubt about whether a conflict exists, he or she shall recuse himself or herself in order to preserve the integrity of the process.
The Hearings Officer shall guard against conflicts of interest during and after the hearings. A Hearings Officer shall not subsequently establish a professional relationship with one of the parties in a related matter, or in an unrelated matter under circumstances which would raise legitimate questions about the integrity of the administrative process. A Hearings Officer shall not establish a personal or intimate relationship with any of the parties that would raise legitimate questions about the integrity of the process.

Confidentiality. The Hearings Officer shall keep confidential all communications and information pertaining to cases and matters both while serving as a Hearings Officer and after service. The Hearings Officer shall be bound by the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct and any professional or ethical standards for attorneys established by the Tribe or the Tribal Court regarding the duty to maintain the confidentiality of information obtained in the course of performing duties as a Hearings Officer.

Quality of the Administrative Process. The Hearings Officer shall conduct the hearings fairly and diligently. The Hearings Officer shall work to ensure a quality process and to encourage mutual respect among the parties. A quality process requires a commitment by the Hearings Officer to diligence and procedural fairness. Each party to a matter should be afforded a chance to participate in and be heard at the hearing, call witnesses, cross examine witnesses and present evidence.