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Be Prompt
It is important that you are present at your appeal and that your arrive promptly. You are advised to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time of your hearing.  If you do not appear and you are the appealing party, your appeal will be dismissed. If you do not appear and you are the non-appealing party, the hearing will continue without you, and facts favorable to you may not be considered. Failure to appear may result in a denial of rights of further appeal.

The Hearing Procedure
The procedure is a fact-finding process. It can be thought of as a trial, but it is not as formal. The appeal hearing is carefully controlled by the Referee. This is done to make sure each person has an equal opportunity to present his/her case.

The hearing will begin with the Referee making an opening statement about what will happen during the hearing. He/She will answer any questions you might have about the hearing process. The Referee will only use information presented at the hearing to reach his/her decision.

The Referee will begin receiving testimony by swearing in all of the parties that will testify at the hearing. The burden of proof varies depending on the issue. If the claimant left work voluntarily, it will be the claimant's burden to show that he/she had "good cause" for leaving. If the employer dismissed the claimant, it will be the employer's burden to prove that the claimant was dismissed due to misconduct. The party carrying the burden of proof usually presents his/her case first.

The Referee will usually ask questions of the witnesses and allow them to tell their story. After answering all of the Referee's questions, the witness will then be allowed to explain his/her answers and offfer any additional or relevant information. The party who requested the witness's testimony will then have the opportunity to "cross examine" or question the witness. The next witness is then called and the same procedure is followed.

When one side has finished presenting his/her case, the opposing side will then have the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses, and will be given the opportunity to present his/her case. The Referee will close the hearing when neither side has any additional information or evidence to present. Most hearings involving a separation last approximately 30 minutes. All testimony given at the hearing is taken under oath and tape-recorded.

If you become confused at any time during the hearing, ask the Referee for assistance. Finally, it is important to remember that the goal of the hearing is to gather facts, not to get into an argument. Arguing or getting angry during a hearing prevents you from being able to to clearly state the facts of your case. You will give a much better presentation if you stay calm and do not allow emotionms to cloud the issues.

Evidence for Consideration
Only evidence which has been presented at the hearing will be considered, therefore you should bring with you any documents or witnesses that can directly help your case. Carefully think through your case. Ask yourself what information, documents or witnesses will help to establish the facts in your favor.

- Choose a witness who has first-hand information. A person with first-hand information is someone who actually saw or heard the event to which he/she is testifying. His/her testimony is direct and comes from a personal knowledge of the facts.

-Anyone who testifies about what someone else said, saw, or heard is offering hearsay and has limited knowledge of that event. Some hearsay is admissible as evidence. However, it is generally not as reliable as testimony from someone who has first-hand knowledge because he/she did not directly witness the events in question. Testimony given at the hearing, under oath and subject to cross-examination, is given more weight than hearsay statements.

-Think carefully about who might have the most personal knowledge about your case. Do not bring a colleague or friend simply because he/she believes you are telling the truth. Rather, bring a witness to the key events, someone who can directly help you support your case.

Attorney Representation
You have the right to have an attorney or other person familiar with unemployment law represent you at your hearing. However, most parties come without an attorney or other representative at their appeal. As always, the Referee will make sure all parties are given an opportunity to present their case. It is the Referee's job to make sure each party receives a fair and unbiased hearing, whether or not he/she chooses to have representation. If you believe your case is complicated, or are uncomfortable presenting it yourself, then you have the right to have a lawyer or representative of your choice present. Your attorney or representative will be given an opportunity to question the witness.

If you choose to have legal representation, contact your attorney immediately so as to allow ample time to prepare for the hearing. It is your responsibility to notify him/her of the time and place of the hearing and to discuss any fees associated with that representation.

Special Accommodations
If you need special services, such as accommodations for persons with disabilities or an interpreter to present your facts at the hearing, contact the Board of Review in advance so that the necessary arrangements can be made in time for your hearing, (401)462-9400.

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Rhode Island Board of Review
Center General Complex, 74 West Road, Hazard Bldg., 1st Floor
Cranston, RI 02920
Phone (401) 462-9400 | Fax (401) 462-9401
email BOR@dlt.state.ri.us