Appeals - Appeals Information and Procedures

THE REFEREES AND THE APPEALS DIVISION STAFF ARE PROHIBITED FROM GIVING LEGAL ADVICE

DO NOT CONTACT THE COMMISSIONERS OR REFEREES DIRECTLY WHETHER IN PERSON, BY PHONE OR BY EMAIL

General Information

This informational guide provides general information about what to expect now that you have filed an appeal. The Civil Service Rules governing appeals can be viewed at the State Civil Service’s (SCS) website: www.civilservice.louisiana.gov.  Chapter 13 of the Rules governs appeal procedures. All appeals information and forms, including the Cover Sheet and subpoena request forms, can also be accessed on our website. At the Civil Service home page, click on the “Appeals” section.

Appeal has been filed

Once your appeal is filed, we will send you a Notice of Appeal that contains your address, the addresses of the Agency, Agency’s attorney; the docket number, and the location of the hearing. The Notice also advises whether the Commission, or a Referee has been assigned to hear your appeal. The parties to an appeal are the employee who files the appeal and the Agency that took the action complained of. Occasionally, other people or agencies are made parties to an appeal. These extra parties are indicated on the Notice of Docketing or are added later by letter.

If your address changes, it is important that you notify the Appeals Division immediately and in writing so that you will receive future notices.

Attorney

If you want to hire an attorney, don’t wait until the hearing is scheduled. Hearings, generally will not be continued if the attorney has a scheduling conflict. Only an attorney, or a law student who has satisfied the requirements of Rule 20 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, can represent you at a hearing.

Correspondence, Motions, Requests

Correspondence must contain your name, the docket number, and a statement certifying that a copy was mailed to the opposing party. You may use this example:

I hereby certify that on the _______ day of __________ 20__, I provided a copy of this (pleading/letter/request) to: (the agency’s attorney or appointing authority) by (mail, hand delivery, email or fax).

____________________________
Signature

All pleadings/motions/requests may be filed with the Appeals Division by mail, fax or e-mail. The Appeals Division fax number is (225) 342-8058, and its e-mail address is dscsappeals@la.gov. The Appeals Division’s fax and e-mail are available 24 hours a day. A fax or e-mailed pleading is considered filed the date it is received. Only settlements with original signatures should be mailed after a copy is filed electronically. Don't send evidence unless asked to do so or until you appear for the hearing.

Withdrawals, Rescissions, Settlements

The employee may withdraw the appeal or the agency may rescind the action that has been appealed. If you decide to withdraw your appeal, please immediately notify the Appeals Division, in writing, so that a hearing will not be scheduled unnecessarily.

With the approval of the Commission or a Referee, an appeal may be settled on the terms agreed to by the parties. A settlement must be in writing, signed by the parties and their attorneys, and submitted to the Appeals Division for approval. If the settlement is not approved by the Commission or Referee prior to the hearing you must appear on that date. Do not wait until you receive an agenda setting the appeal for hearing or wait until the day of the hearing to begin discussing settlement.

A settlement, withdrawal or rescission is not final until approved by the Commission or a Referee.

Burden of Proof

Generally, in an appeal, the agency must prove the charges in the letter of discipline by a preponderance of evidence and that there was cause for the discipline. A “preponderance of the evidence” means evidence which proves a fact is more probable than not. In all other appeals, the burden of proof is on the employee to prove that the action was discriminatory or in violation of the Civil Service Rules or the Civil Service Article.

Summary Dispositions

When the legal requirements for taking disciplinary action or filing an appeal are not met, the appeal may be summarily decided. The grounds for summary disposition are listed in Rule 13.14. If there are grounds for summary disposition, please advise the Appeals Division in writing as soon as possible. Do not wait until the day of the hearing. If you receive a Motion for Summary Disposition, an Order to Show Cause, or a Notice of Defective Appeal, this does not mean that the case has been decided. It means the Commission or Referee needs more information to make a decision. You will be given time to respond in writing to the Order or Notice. If you do not respond, your appeal may be summarily dismissed. In any event, you will receive a written decision.

Continuance (Postponement) of Hearing

A continuance (postponement) of the hearing will only be granted based on a written motion and accompanying order, with documents attached supporting the reason you are requesting a continuance. It will only be granted for compelling cause or to serve the ends of justice. Obtaining an attorney at the last minute is not good cause. If you are given a continuance and your appeal is ultimately granted, the Commission or the Referee may deny you any compensation for that portion of time lost by reason of the continuance. See Rule 13.18.

Agendas

If the appeal proceeds to hearing, an Agenda will be mailed to you at least 30 days prior to the hearing date to the address you furnished to the Appeals Division. The Agenda will advise you of the date, time and place of the hearing and whether the Civil Service Commission or one of its Referees is hearing the appeal.

Subpoenas

Any person within the state can be ordered to appear at an appeal hearing to testify and/or to produce documents. You must file a written subpoena request in writing. We must receive it no later than 15 calendar days before the hearing. The request must identify the witnesses and documents to be produced at the hearing and explain what will be proved by each witness and document requested. If the witness is a state employee, tell us which agency they work for. If not a state employee, provide the address, including the zip code, of the witness. You may obtain a copy of the subpoena request form and instructions at the SCS website. If the request does not comply with these instructions or is filed untimely, it will be denied.

You may arrange for a witness to voluntarily appear at the hearing, but if the volunteer witness does not appear, the hearing will not be held open to take his/her testimony at a later date.

Failure to appear at a hearing

If you do not appear (either in person or through counsel) for your hearing, the appeal will be dismissed unless you received a continuance. Failure to appear because you did not update your address and did not receive notice of the hearing will not prevent dismissal of your appeal.

Hearing Procedures

Civil Service appeal hearings are conducted like trials in civil court. The appeal hearing procedures are governed by Chapter 13 of the Civil Service Rules, which is available at the SCS website: www.civilservice.louisiana.gov. Ignorance of the Rules does not excuse non-compliance. The best way to prepare for a hearing is to watch a few. Call us to find out when and where hearings will conducted. Most of the documents you will need are public records available from the custodian of records. See La. R.S. 44:1-41.

If you are not represented by an attorney, the Referee or the Commission will give you general instructions about how the hearing will proceed, but neither the Referee nor the Commission can give you legal advice.

The Referee or the Chairman of the Commission will open the hearing. All hearings are recorded. The party who has the burden of proof usually goes first. Witnesses are called and documents are submitted. Each party is allowed to question all witnesses. A party has the right to respectfully object to testimony or documentary evidence. If you make an objection, state the reason for the objection. The Chairman of the Commission or the Referee will rule on your objection. You must ask to admit documents or other evidence.

You may present your legal arguments, but arguing with a witness or opposing counsel is prohibited. Disrespectful behavior or a failure to follow directives of the Commission or Referee may result in contempt of court.

Decisions

After the hearing is completed or after the deadline for submitting written argument on legal issues has passed, a decision will be rendered in writing. Most decisions are rendered within 60 days of the day the case is submitted for decision. Do not call the Appeals Division inquiring about the status unless it has been more than 60 days since the case was submitted.