Due Process Implications of Telephone Hearings: The Case for an Individualized Approach to Scheduling Telephone Hearings

As the executive branch shrinks and reduces expenditures, its adjudicative functions adjust to the new fiscal reality. Telephone hearings are, therefore, increasingly being used in order to control costs. This Article examines the impact of telephone hearings on the due process elements of unemployment compensation ‘fair” hearings. The Authors review the applicable federal and state law and find that there is no absolute bar to using the telephone to conduct administrative hearings. They test the empirical effect of the telephone on hearings in California and Maine. Their analysis of hundreds of hearings indicates that parties to telephone hearings are less likely to exercise their rights to submit evidence through witnesses and documents than are parties to in-person hearings. The Authors caution that it is critical to balance the interests of cost savings with the rights of the parties to the proceedings. Failure to do so may result in successful court challenges to this practice.