|Getting The Best Timeslot||Subpoenas|
|Knowing Your Judge|
|Witnesses||Tracking Your Decisions|
Knowing Your Judge
At the claims level it' s difficult to know who you're dealing with or how your case will be decided. This is because there's a lack of uniformity, hundreds of claims examiners and a high turnover rate. But at the appeals level it's different. The appeals division has only 40 hearing officers and most of them will stay until retirement. This means you'll have the same judges over and over again. So get to know them!
Every one of these judges has a unique way of doing things. A unique style and a unique emphasis on what they find important to the case. Every judge will also ask questions differently, look at documents differently, and even weigh the evidence differently. The good news is that you will know in advance who is hearing your case. And when you know what's important to them, it will allow you to present your arguments and evidence most effectively.
Using Prior Cases, Witnesses and Transcripts To Learn About Your Judge
What your judge finds important can be found from their prior decisions and from transcripts of cases that were appealed to the Georgia Board of Review. You can also learn a lot from employees who were before these judges in prior hearings.
What You Want To Know
Does This Judge Allow For Rebuttal Testimony Or Jump
straight From Cross To Closing Arguments?
If they normally skip rebuttal, ask them for such (if appropriate) at the end of the cross examination stage. Or be ready to compensate at the end with a thorough closing argument. Your closing should address inconsistencies, the claimant's credibility and other matters that show he's at fault.
What Annoys This Judge The Most? (Avoid
This at all cost!!!)
Get insights from others who've been before this judge.
What Canned Reasoning Was Most Often Used in Cases
Similar To Yours?
Every hearing officer will use prepackaged wording or some canned reasoning to write their decisions. Do you see any patterns? What are the buzz words you see over and over again? Circle these words and then present your case in the same language, referring to the same standards they use in their decisions.
For example: Suppose you have a tardiness hearing before Jon J. Smith.
To prepare, gather all decisions from your tardy file and sort out the ones with his name on it. Say you find 4. Of those 4, which have fact patterns closest to yours? Which cases did the employer lose and which did they win? Be sure to avoid whatever caused the negative decision. For example: If you previously lost a case for lack of a firsthand witness or documents, avoid this mistake at future hearings. Likewise, be sure to follow what ever previously led to the employer winning.
Make a Word
or Excel Chart Listing The Names Of Every Judge You've Had A Case With.
Using A Spreadsheet To Prepare For Your Next Case
In Excel you can sort by the hearing officer's name, topic, plug in or outcome so long as you assign a special column for each variable. This can quickly tell you what you need to prepare for your next case.
Create a column or row for each type of case, i.e. for discharges, include, absences, tardies, misconduct, poor performance, and rule violation, etc. For quits, include medical, personal, work related, etc. Underneath each subtopic include: a short summary of facts, who won, why they won and the canned reasoning or main words used in the decision. Ignore plug ins relating to the taxing of the employer's account. Just stick to the ones addressing the quit or discharge.
For sorting purposes: you may also use a letter or symbol in a special column next to the column you wish to sort . For example: All tardies could be designated with the letter "T" in the column next to the word "tardy". Next to each absence case would be a column with the letter "A". Likewise, for sorting purposes, each hearing officer would have a column next to their name with their three letter initials.
To sort by Hearing officer, simply start with the column bearing their
To get all their tardies, simply highlight the sorted cases for that particular hearing officer. Then sort again by the column with the A's and T's.
Sometimes it's extremely helpful to sort by other variables. For example, it may be that while you've never had a tardiness case with Jon J Smith; you have had such with other hearing officers. In that case, you'll want to sort by subject only, (in this case tardiness) so you can see what the other hearing officers found important.
Arguing Your Case At The Hearing
If the hearing officer uses a plug in to assess the parties' credibility, keep that in mind when you make your arguments. If the hearing officer uses a 6 part test for attendance, address in the hearing how the claimant failed each one of them. If the hearing officer talks about how the tardiness was "within the claimant's control", be sure to recite the same language in your rebuttal and closings. Using the exact same language and phrasing makes it obvious that you're tracking the law and know what you're doing. It also sends the hearing officer a message, which is that they have to be extra careful in ruling against you lest they be overturned on appeal.