Before the Hearing

Once the Petition has been filed, it is given a case number and assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The case number will appear in the upper right corner of all documents sent to you by OAH. You must use this case number to properly identify all pleadings or correspondence submitted for filing in your contested case file. A Notice of Contested Case and Assignment is sent to all parties. This notice shows the name of the ALJ who has been assigned to the case and requires the agency to submit the agency decision which caused the filing of the contested case.

If you have an attorney, all correspondence and documents will be sent to your attorney. Every attorney must file a Notice of Appearance which indicates the name, address, email address, telephone number, and State Bar Number of the attorney, as well as which party the attorney is representing.

If you do not have an attorney, all correspondence and documents will be mailed to you at the address you provide OAH via US Mail (standard filing) or email (e-filing). YOU MUST KEEP OAH INFORMED OF YOUR CURRENT MAILING ADDRESS, EMAIL ADDRESS, AND TELEPHONE NUMBER.

Soon after filing a Petition, you may be notified that your case has been selected for a mediation (also known as a "mediated settlement conference"). A mediation is a prehearing conference conducted by a neutral person, known as a mediator, who acts to encourage and facilitate settlement of the case. If your case is sent to a mediation, you and the other party must agree on a mediator. A list of mediators and a guide to selecting a mediator are available on the North Carolina Court Information System website.  If you are unable to agree, the presiding ALJ will choose a mediator for you. In either circumstance, the petitioner's attorney shall file a Designation of Mediator Form with the presiding ALJ. This form is normally mailed with the Order of Mediation. The parties are required to pay the cost of the mediation. At the close of the mediation, the mediator will file a written report with the presiding ALJ as to whether or not an agreement was reached by the parties. The report is made through a Report of Mediator Form.  (As an alternative to mediation, you may be notified that an Administrative Law Judge will conduct a settlement conference.)

A prehearing request to the ALJ for any action in a contested case must be made by filing a written motion. If a party files a motion, the other party has ten (10) days to respond. The ALJ will rule on all motions.

Before the contested case hearing, the ALJ may require the parties to file a Final Prehearing Order. This document sets out the issues which are agreed upon by the parties and identifies the witnesses and exhibits which each party will offer at the hearing.

Each party is responsible for arranging for the appearance of their witnesses. If you want to ensure the presence of your witnesses, you must subpoena them. A Subpoena Form with instructions may be obtained on the Hearing Forms page or by contacting the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Not less than 15 days before the hearing, you will receive a Notice of Hearing. This Notice will be sent by certified mail to all standard parties and by email to all e-filing parties and establishes the time, date, and location of the hearing, among other things.

A hearing may be continued or postponed but only for good cause. A request for a continuance of a hearing must be made before the hearing by written motion to the ALJ and must be served on all parties.