LAW 784

Administrative Hearings Simulation Course

Public Interest Law

For information in addition to this course description, please use this link Law 784 Pre-enrollment Information or contact Professor Bryant: Please note: This four-unit course has unusual scheduling. The class will meet on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon every week during the semester. Friday classes differ in length and timing, and the class will not meet on three Fridays.  During weeks beginning on these dates, the class will meet on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon and Fridays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm: 1/17; 1/24; 1/31; 2/7; 2/14; 3/7; and 4/4.  During weeks beginning on these dates, the class will meet on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon, and students working in pairs will begin conducting full hearings: 2/21; 3/14; and 4/11. On those Fridays, students will need to allocate the time block from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. (This is in addition to the Wednesday class from 10 am to noon.) However, there will be no Friday class during the week following a hearings day.  During weeks beginning on these dates, class will meet on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon and will not meet as a class on Fridays: 2/28; 3/28; and 4/18. Those are the weeks after a hearings day when students will be working on reports. They will meet with the instructor at least once to discuss the report production for the hearing they conducted. Students should expect to meet with the professor on Friday morning during the time block between 9 am and noon.  Course Description This is a simulation course designed to explore administrative adjudication. Unlike UCLA Law’s advocacy skill development simulation courses, this course enables students to experience litigation from a neutral judicial decision maker’s perspective while facilitating the development of practical skills useful in many different legal settings. The course also exposes students to ideas about how fair outcomes are achieved in adjudication by administrative agencies, where formal rules of evidence are typically not applicable. This experience is useful for its contrast to civil and criminal litigation. It is useful also for understanding more generally the American legal landscape because of the extent of administrative agency action and adjudication in the United States. Administrative agencies make decisions about important subjects as diverse as asylum, employment-related issues, educational programming for uniquely situated students, social security benefits, and parole from prison. Before filing a civil lawsuit against an agency, those seeking to challenge the agency’s decision typically must exhaust administrative remedies, which often entails participating in an administrative hearing.  All simulations in this course are based on actual administrative hearing case files. Actors will play the parts of various witnesses summoned to the hearing. Course participants are positioned as hearing examiners, who must review files containing investigation reports and other potentially admissible evidence, conduct hearings in which witnesses present additional evidence, determine the admissibility of different pieces of evidence, develop a “theory of the case,” and write persuasive decisions. The vantage point as the decision maker gives students a unique perspective from which to consider how judges think about decision making. This perspective differs in many respects from how advocates think about adversarial proceedings. Yet, experiencing this perspective can inform decisions about future advocacy strategies, whether to pursue a judicial career, and how to approach legal practice in subject areas that involve administrative agencies.  After a 5-week period of training in various relevant skills, participants will conduct complete hearings and draft decisions for three full simulated hearings. All involve easily accessible subject matter: adjudication of complaints about “potentially dangerous dogs.” Parties to these administrative proceedings care as deeply about outcomes as parties in other types of administrative adjudicatory proceedings, but the substantive law and relevant non-law subjects (such as dog behavior) are straightforward and accessible enough for participants to focus on practical transferable legal skills instead of first mastering complex subject matter. These skills include evaluating an evidentiary file, questioning witnesses using appropriately varying question types, assessing credibility of witnesses, analyzing facts in relation to statutory factors, building a theory of what happened, designing appropriate outcomes, and writing persuasive case disposition reports.  Course participants will be working in pairs, with one serving as the primary hearing examiner in the morning and the other serving as the primary hearing examiner in the afternoon. When a member of the pair is not the primary hearing examiner, that person is serving as a secondary hearing examiner with responsibilities to participate in the hearing and to assist in the production of the report for that case. Course participants will have two weeks to produce the report for the case assigned to them as the primary hearing examiner. The report is structured in accordance with an easy-to-use template, and course participants will be instructed in its use before the hearings part of the course begins.  After each hearing day, students will continue, as always, to meet on Wednesdays, during which the focus is on discussions of the cases. However, students will not meet as a class on the Friday after a hearing day. That time is dedicated to work on case reports and meeting with the instructor.  Learning Outcomes  This simulation course is designed for students to develop understanding of the promise and limitations of administrative adjudication, while learning practical legal skills. Students will participate in simulated hearings and then take responsibility for producing fair and persuasive decisions. During the course, students will gain experience in the following skills:

  • Analyzing an evidentiary file (consisting of investigation conducted by others prior to the hearing);
  • Evaluating different types of evidence (e.g., written, photographic, video) for their credibility, admissibility, and weight in making a decision;
  • Conducting hearings in ways that lead to the most reliable evidence possible, through fairly and rigorously examining witnesses and any evidence they bring to the hearing;
  • Assessing witness credibility to determine inclusion or weight of testamentary evidence they provide during the hearing;
  • Analyzing credible, reliable, relevant evidence—written, photographic, and oral—in relation to statutory factors;
  • Determining the weight of different pieces of evidence for purposes of developing a theory of how an incident happened and a fair outcome;
  • Developing a theory of prevention of recurrence of an incident, based on admissible evidence;
  • Developing through practice a repertoire of different types of questions, while understanding the utility of each type;
  • Collaborating with others on all aspects of evaluating a case, preparing for a hearing, conducting a hearing to optimize the value of the collaboration, assessing evidence, deciding on a fair outcome, and producing a persuasive written decision.
  • Producing a report that fairly captures witness testimony, other evidence, evaluates different factors as required by law, fairly decides on an outcome as allowed by law, and persuades the reader of the legitimacy and wisdom of the decision.
 To accomplish these learning objectives, this simulation course is built around multiple genuine case files involving allegations that a particular dog or dogs violated laws enacted to protect public safety. For each hearing day, each student is paired with another student to serve as co-hearing examiners for the day. (Students are assigned to different partners on different hearing days.) Each pair is assigned a morning case and an afternoon case. That is, there are two cases to prepare for each hearing day. In the morning, one student is assigned as the primary hearing examiner, while the other is assigned the role of secondary hearing examiner. Both co-hearing examiners will be active during the hearing, and both are required to be fully prepared for the hearing. In the afternoon, the student who was the primary hearing examiner will become the secondary hearing examiner.  After the hearing, partnered students will work on the reports for each case, with the primary hearing examiner responsible for the final submission of the report for the case in which they were the primary hearing examiner. Before the hearings part of the course, students will be trained in how to produce a report based on a template that includes all necessary parts of a report.  Assessment: Hearings, including preparing for the hearing, conducting the hearing, working with the instructor and classmates about the hearings and the report, drafting, revising, and submitting the report: 70% (All hearings are given equal weight.)  Work associated with training, including participation in class and submitting any required assignments: 30% Prerequisites: None.  Class Materials: Materials will be constructed specifically for this course and posted on Teams. For sample materials, please use this link: Law 784 Pre-enrollment Information or contact Professor Bryant:  Please review these materials to be sure that you want to enroll in this class. The last day to drop this class is January 13, 2023, which is before the class begins.  Enrollment: Limited to 6 students.   Units: 4

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