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(10.31) What is a fair hearing like?

(10.31) What is a fair hearing like?

IMPORTANT: This information will change on March 1, 2023

Your fair hearing is not as formal as a hearing in a court. But, it is more formal than an informal meeting or a mediation.

The hearing is recorded for audio (sound) and not video. The audio recording keeps what everyone says.[1]§ 4712(k). A hearing officer from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is in charge of the hearing. The ALJ listens to the witnesses who give answers to questions from you and the regional center. Witnesses swear that they are testifying honestly, which is called being, “under oath”.

At a fair hearing, you have the right to:

  • Show the written and spoken evidence.
  • Call witnesses for your side. There are two types of witnesses. “Lay witnesses” are people who know the facts that help your case. “Expert witnesses,” like doctors and psychologists, give an opinion using their special training and experience.
  • Have an advocate, lawyer, or other representative in the hearing. They can present your case or help you prepare your case.
  • Request an interpreter from OAH if you or your witnesses do not speak English.[2]§§ 4712(h); 4701(f).


The hearing officer must encourage the free and open exchange of information and make the hearing fair and informal. The hearing officer must help you bring out your facts that are relevant to your case. This is called “engaged neutrality.” To help bring out the facts, the hearing officer may do the following:

  • Question any witness,
  • Call any witness to testify at the hearing, and
  • At the end of the hearing, give more time to have any witness testify or provide other documents.

1 § 4712(k).
2 §§ 4712(h); 4701(f).