Appeals Division Appeal Hearing Procedures

This information is intended to assist you in preparing for your administrative hearing before the State Personnel Board (SPB or Board) and is not a substitute for having an attorney or representative. The information provides general answers to the most frequently asked questions from Appellants and their representatives, and is not intended as legal advice. We hope that this information will help you to better understand the appeals process and prepare for your hearing.

It is very important for you to carefully read all documents given to you by the department that took the action you are appealing. Those documents provide information about the issues involved or the charges brought against you by the department, what deadlines you must meet, what appeal and/or hearing rights you have, and when these must be exercised.

You must file a timely appeal to have a hearing. The time frames vary based on the appeal. You must check the applicable law or rule. The SPB laws and administrative regulations (rules) govern the specific requirements, such as time frames for filing appeals within the Board's jurisdiction. Copies of the SPB laws and rules are available for review in departmental personnel offices, union offices, and the SPB. Government Code Sections 11513, 18500 - 19799 and Title 2, California Code of Regulations, Sections 1 - 599.995 and 17010 - 17592 set forth the procedures for most SPB Hearings. Other statutes include Government Code Sections 19800 - 10 and Education Code Sections 89535-42.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What Will My Hearing Be Like? 

Your hearing will be very similar to a trial in court, with witnesses, exhibits and rules of evidence. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will preside at the hearing. The ALJ is not employed by the department bringing this action, but by the SPB. An attorney may or may not represent the department. You may choose to be represented by an attorney or other representative, or you can represent yourself at your appeal hearing.

All hearings are tape recorded. A Party may request a court reporter, but must pay all fees. All arrangements for court reporters must be made through the Appeals Division two weeks prior to the scheduled hearing date. All requests for transcripts are processed by the SPB Appeals Division. Transcripts of hearings may also be provided, but the requesting party must pay the required fees.

When the hearing begins, each side may present an opening statement. This tells the ALJ what each side intends to prove. Each side then offers relevant evidence to prove its case. Evidence can be sworn testimony taken under oath at the hearing, or certain kinds of documents, such as business records. You must prove the accuracy of documents you submit.

The Department usually presents its evidence first. The department attorney/representative will ask questions on direct examination of its witnesses. When the department is finished, it is your turn to ask questions of the witnesses on cross-examination. The department attorney will have a second chance to ask questions on matters you brought up on redirect examination. Then you have a second chance to inquire on recross-examination.

The Appellant presents evidence after the department has presented its case. As you finish with each of your witnesses, and your own testimony, the department will have an opportunity to cross-examine each of your witnesses. You have a second chance to ask questions of each witness.

The department may call rebuttal witnesses after you have presented your case. Rebuttal witnesses may only testify about issues brought up in your case. If the department calls rebuttal witnesses, you may be allowed to call additional witnesses to address the issues discussed by rebuttal witnesses.

Before the hearing closes, you must submit all evidence to the ALJ to consider.

Closing arguments may be presented by each side after all evidence has been received. The department usually goes first. The party that goes first also has the opportunity to make the last comment. Closing arguments address only those facts brought out in testimony of witnesses or documents received into evidence. In some cases, the ALJ may want the parties to submit written instead of oral argument.

Do I have to Prove My Innocence?

The burden of proof in state civil service, county, and California State University (CSU) disciplinary cases, and state and county medical actions, is on the employer to prove the charges.

In state civil service rejections on probation, discrimination complaints, nonpunitive terminations and reasonable accommodation cases; Department of Personnel Administration (DPB) appeals; CSU petitions to set aside resignations and appeals from automatic resignations; layoff and refusal to hire from employment lists, the burden of proof is on you to disprove the stated causes (which may be presumed true), and to prove your claims.

All issues raised by the action and appeal will be considered during the hearing. Even when the department has the burden of proof, you should prepare to offer evidence of your good conduct, rehabilitation, and evidence refuting the charges, as appropriate. If you believe the action was based on discrimination, you must present evidence during your hearing.

Can I See the Department's Evidence Against Me?

When you receive the Notice of Adverse Action, Rejection or other charging document setting forth the issues, you are entitled to receive all documents related to the specific acts and omissions set forth in the notice.

If you do not receive this information from the department, simply send your request to the department attorney. You may also call or write the department attorney and ask to inspect relevant evidence the department has regarding your case. You are responsible for the cost for copies. You also have a right to interview employees having knowledge of the charges.

What Kind of Evidence Will I Need to Bring to the Hearing?

Depending on your case, you may want to bring witnesses who know about the issues involved in the charges against you. If there are documents, such as contracts, business records, or checks that help prove your side, try to bring the original and three copies. You may bring photographs or other items that are relevant to your defense. Items you want to be considered must be left with the ALJ.

Is There a Way to Settle Without a Hearing?

Cases often settle without going to hearing. Contact the department attorney to see if you can work something out. You may also contact the SPB Appeals Division for possible assistance.

You will receive a notice to attend a settlement conference, if scheduled in your case.

How Do I Get Subpoenas?

If you are a party to a hearing, you have the right to subpoena witnesses and relevant documents to be produced at the hearing. Contact the SPB Appeals Division well ahead of the hearing for subpoenas duces tecum for documents and subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses with relevant testimony. You must arrange to pay required fees and have someone else serve the subpoenas. It is your responsibility to determine how to serve subpoenas correctly.

If a Subpoenaed Witness Requests to be Paid, Who is Responsible for Paying Witness Fees?

It is the responsibility of the party who subpoenas the witness to pay all required fees. Witnesses at a hearing are entitled to the same fees as allowed witnesses in civil cases in courts. In addition, witnesses may be entitled to mileage reimbursement. The party serving the subpoena is responsible to determine the witness fees and mileage to be paid in accordance with law.

Is It Okay to Bring Letters Instead of Witnesses?

Some letters may be admitted into evidence for limited purposes, but generally it is better to bring witnesses who can help present your side of the case and answer any questions raised. The ALJ will not speak with witnesses, except at the hearing.

This hearing is your opportunity to tell the ALJ your side. It is important to have your witnesses present at the hearing to testify.

If I Forget Something, Can I Send it to the Judge at a Later Time?

Your chance to present evidence is at the hearing. Only in rare cases will the ALJ allow you to submit evidence later.

What if I Can't be There on the Hearing Day?

You must show good cause to change a hearing date. If you cannot attend on the date and the time shown on your hearing notice, you must contact the SPB Appeals Division as soon as you know of the problem. You must also contact the department representative to see if he/she will agree to the change. To request a different hearing date, you may have to file a written declaration stating the reasons for the change.

What if I Don't Attend the Hearing?

If you file an appeal and do not attend the hearing, the appeal will be considered withdrawn and the action final.

What if I Need An Interpreter?

If you or a witness require a sign language interpreter, you must immediately contact the department attorney or the SPB Appeals Division so that a certified interpreter can be provided. A friend or relative cannot interpret for you.

Will the Hearing Location be Accessible to People with Disabilities?

Hearing locations will be accessible to persons with disabilities. If you or your witnesses have special needs that require reasonable accommodation, please contact the SPB Appeals Division to verify the type of accommodation required, so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Whom Do I Contact if I Have Questions Regarding My Appeal?

For appeals filed directly with the SPB, you should contact the Appeals Division to determine the status of your appeal. For CalHR Appeals, you must contact CalHR Statutory Appeals directly.

All correspondence received from the SPB Appeals Division will include the case number assigned to your appeal. Please have your case number available when you contact the Appeals Division regarding your appeal.

The SPB Appeals Division should be contacted if you have questions regarding the processing of your appeal. The telephone numbers are as follows:

General Information
(916) 653-0799

(916) 653-5505

Transcript, Administrative Records, and Public Records Act Requests
(916) 651-3165

FAX Line
(916) 654-6055

TDD* Line
(916) 654-2360