West Virginia Code
CHAPTER 29A. STATE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES ACT.
ARTICLE 5. CONTESTED CASES.
(a) In any contested case all parties shall be afforded an opportunity for hearing after at least ten days' written notice. The notice shall contain the date, time and place of the hearing and a short and plain statement of the matters asserted. If the agency is unable to state the matters in detail at the time the notice is served, the initial notice may be limited to a statement of the issues involved. Thereafter, upon application a more definite and detailed statement shall be furnished. An opportunity shall be afforded all parties to present evidence and argument with respect to the matters and issues involved. The required notice must be given as specified in section two, article seven of this chapter. All of the testimony and evidence at any such hearing shall be reported by stenographic notes and characters or by mechanical means. All rulings on the admissibility of testimony and evidence shall also be reported. The agency shall prepare an official record, which shall include reported testimony and exhibits in each contested case, and all agency staff memoranda and data used in consideration of the case, but it shall not be necessary to transcribe the reported testimony unless required for purposes of rehearing or judicial review. Informal disposition may also be made of any contested case by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order or default. Each agency shall adopt appropriate rules of procedure for hearing in contested cases.
(b) For the purpose of conducting a hearing in any contested case, any agency which now has or may be hereafter expressly granted by statute the power to issue subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum or any member of the body which comprises such agency may exercise such power in the name of the agency. Any such agency or any member of the body which comprises any such agency may exercise such power in the name of the agency for any party upon request. Under no circumstances shall this chapter be construed as granting the power to issue subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum to any agency or to any member of the body of any agency which does not now by statute expressly have such power. When such power exists, the provisions of this section shall apply. Every such subpoena and subpoena duces tecum shall be served at least five days before the return date thereof, either by personal service made by any person over eighteen years of age or by registered or certified mail, but a return acknowledgment signed by the person to whom the subpoena or subpoena duces tecum is directed shall be required to prove service by registered or certified mail. All subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum shall be issued in the name of the agency, as aforesaid, but any party requesting their issuance must see that they are properly served. Service of subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum issued at the instance of the agency shall be the responsibility of the agency. Any person who serves any such subpoena or subpoena duces tecum shall be entitled to the same fee as sheriffs who serve witness subpoenas for the circuit courts of this state; and fees for the attendance and travel of witnesses shall be the same as for witnesses before the circuit courts of this state. All such fees shall be paid by the agency if the subpoena or subpoena duces tecum were issued, without the request of an interested party, at the instance of the agency. All such fees related to any subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued at the instance of an interested party shall be paid by the party who asks that such subpoena or subpoena duces tecum be issued. All requests by interested parties for subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum shall be in writing and shall contain a statement acknowledging that the requesting party agrees to pay such fees. Any such agency may compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, records or papers in response to such subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum. Upon motion made promptly and in any event before the time specified in a subpoena duces tecum for compliance therewith, the circuit court of the county in which the hearing is to be held, or the circuit court in which the subpoena duces tecum was served, or the judge of either such court in vacation, may grant any relief with respect to such subpoena duces tecum which either such court, under the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure for Trial Courts of Record, could grant, and for any of the same reasons, with respect to a subpoena duces tecum issued from either such court. In case of disobedience or neglect of any subpoena or subpoena duces tecum served on any person, or the refusal of any witness to testify to any matter regarding which he may be lawfully interrogated, the circuit court of the county in which the hearing is being held, or the judge thereof in vacation, upon application by such agency or any member of the body which comprises such agency, shall compel obedience by attachment proceedings for contempt as in the case of disobedience of the requirements of a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum issued from such circuit court or a refusal to testify therein. Witnesses at such hearings shall testify under oath or affirmation.
(c) Evidentiary depositions may be taken and read as in civil actions in the circuit courts of this state.
(d) All hearings shall be conducted in an impartial manner. The agency, any member of the body which comprises the agency, or any hearing examiner or other person permitted by statute to hold any such hearing for such agency, and duly authorized by such agency so to do, shall have the power to: (1) Administer oaths and affirmations, (2) rule upon offers of proof and receive relevant evidence, (3) regulate the course of the hearing, (4) hold conferences for the settlement or simplification of the issues by consent of the parties, (5) dispose of procedural requests or similar matters, and (6) take any other action authorized by a rule adopted by the agency in accordance with the provisions of article three of this chapter.
(e) Except where otherwise provided by statute, the hearing in any contested case shall be held in the county selected by the agency.
(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraph (a) of this section, upon request to the agency from any party to the hearing all reported testimony and evidence at such hearing shall be transcribed, and a copy thereof furnished to such party at his expense. The agency shall have the responsibility for making arrangements for the transcription of the reported testimony and evidence, and such transcription shall be accomplished with all dispatch.
(a) In contested cases irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded. The rules of evidence as applied in civil cases in the circuit courts of this state shall be followed. When necessary to ascertain facts not reasonably susceptible of proof under those rules, evidence not admissible thereunder may be admitted, except where precluded by statute, if it is of a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent men in the conduct of their affairs. Agencies shall be bound by the rules of privilege recognized by law. Objections to evidentiary offers shall be noted in the record. Any party to any such hearing may vouch the record as to any excluded testimony or other evidence.
(b) All evidence, including papers, records, agency staff memoranda and documents in the possession of the agency, of which it desires to avail itself, shall be offered and made a part of the record in the case, and no other factual information or evidence shall be considered in the determination of the case. Documentary evidence may be received in the form of copies or excerpts or by incorporation by reference.
(c) Every party shall have the right of cross-examination of witnesses who testify, and shall have the right to submit rebuttal evidence.
(d) Agencies may take notice of judicially cognizable facts. All parties shall be notified either before or during hearing, or by reference in preliminary reports or otherwise, of the material so noticed, and they shall be afforded an opportunity to contest the facts so noticed.
(e) Upon motion in writing served by any party as notice may be served pursuant to section two, article seven of this chapter and therein assigning error or omission in any part of any transcript of the proceedings had and testimony taken at any such hearing, the agency shall settle all differences arising as to whether such transcript truly discloses what occurred at the hearing and shall direct that the transcript be corrected and revised in the respects designated by the agency, so as to make it conform to the whole truth.
Every final order or decision rendered by any agency in a contested case shall be in writing or stated in the record and shall be accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions of law. Prior to the rendering of any final order or decision, any party may propose findings of fact and conclusions of law. If proposed, all other parties shall be given an opportunity to except to such proposed findings and conclusions, and the final order or decision shall include a ruling on each proposed finding. Findings of fact, if set forth in statutory language, shall be accompanied by a concise and explicit statement of the underlying facts supporting the findings. A copy of the order or decision and accompanying findings and conclusions shall be served upon each party and his attorney of record, if any, in person or by registered or certified mail.
(a) Any party adversely affected by a final order or decision in a contested case is entitled to judicial review thereof under this chapter, but nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to prevent other means of review, redress or relief provided by law.
(b) Proceedings for review shall be instituted by filing a petition, at the election of the petitioner, in either the circuit court of Kanawha County, West Virginia or in the circuit court of the county in which the petitioner or any one of the petitioners resides or does business, or with the judge thereof in vacation, within thirty days after the date upon which such party received notice of the final order or decision of the agency. A copy of the petition shall be served upon the agency and all other parties of record by registered or certified mail. The petition shall state whether the appeal is taken on questions of law or questions of fact, or both. No appeal bond shall be required to effect any such appeal.
(c) The filing of the petition shall not stay enforcement of the agency order or decision or act as a supersedeas thereto, but the agency may stay such enforcement, and the appellant, at any time after the filing of his petition, may apply to such circuit court for a stay of or supersedeas to such final order or decision. Pending the appeal, the court may grant a stay or supersedeas upon such terms as it deems proper.
(d) Within fifteen days after receipt of a copy of the petition by the agency, or within such further time as the court may allow, the agency shall transmit to such circuit court the original or a certified copy of the entire record of the proceeding under review, including a transcript of all testimony and all papers, motions, documents, evidence and records as were before the agency, all agency staff memoranda submitted in connection with the case, and a statement of matters officially noted; but, by stipulation of all parties to the review proceeding, the record may be shortened. The expense of preparing such record shall be taxed as a part of the costs of the appeal. The appellant shall provide security for costs satisfactory to the court. Any party unreasonably refusing to stipulate to limit the record may be taxed by the court for the additional costs involved. Upon demand by any party to the appeal, the agency shall furnish, at the cost of the party requesting same, a copy of such record. In the event the complete record is not filed with the court within the time provided for in this section, the appellant may apply to the court to have the case docketed, and the court shall order such record filed.
(e) Appeals taken on questions of law, fact or both, shall be heard upon assignments of error filed in the cause or set out in the briefs of the appellant. Errors not argued by brief may be disregarded, but the court may consider and decide errors which are not assigned or argued. The court or judge shall fix a date and time for the hearing on the petition, but such hearing, unless by agreement of the parties, shall not be held sooner than ten days after the filing of the petition, and notice of such date and time shall be forthwith given to the agency.
(f) The review shall be conducted by the court without a jury and shall be upon the record made before the agency, except that in cases of alleged irregularities in procedure before the agency, not shown in the record, testimony thereon may be taken before the court. The court may hear oral arguments and require written briefs.
(g) The court may affirm the order or decision of the agency or remand the case for further proceedings. It shall reverse, vacate or modify the order or decision of the agency if the substantial rights of the petitioner or petitioners have been prejudiced because the administrative findings, inferences, conclusions, decision or order are:
(1) In violation of Constitutional or statutory provisions; or
(2) In excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency; or
(3) Made upon unlawful procedures; or
(4) Affected by other error of law; or
(5) Clearly wrong in view of the reliable, probative and substantial evidence on the whole record; or
(6) Arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.
(h) The judgment of the circuit court shall be final unless reversed, vacated or modified on appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals of this state in accordance with the provisions of section one, article six of this chapter.
The provisions of this article shall not apply to the workers' compensation fund, the Bureau of Employment Programs, the State Tax Commissioner, the state road commissioner, the state road commission, and the teachers' retirement board.