AGO 86-4.

Case Date:March 14, 1986
Colorado Attorney General Opinions 1986. AGO 86-4. March 14, 1986Department of Law Attorney General Opinion FORMAL OPINION of DUANE WOODARD Attorney General Opinion No. 86-4 AG Alpha No. AD HR AGAOY Mr. A.Y. Levine Deputy Director Department of Administration 1525 Sherman Street Denver, Colorado 80203 RE: Public assistance hearings conducted by telephoneDear Mr. Levine: I write in response to your request for a formal opinion concerning public assistance hearings conducted by telephone conference call. QUESTIONS PRESENTED AND CONCLUSIONS May adjudicatory hearings for public assistance recipients be conducted by telephone? Conclusion: Yes. ANALYSIS Pursuant to section 26-1-106, C.R.S. (1985 Supp.), the division of hearing officers conducts hearings on behalf of the Department of Social Services for public assistance claimants. In some of the rural counties, hearing officers have been conducting these hearings via telephone conference call, if all parties consent to conduct the hearing in this manner. The claimant is fully informed about the consequences of conducting a hearing by telephone. Only after the hearing officer receives consent from both parties does he proceed with a telephone hearing. Both the claimant and the witnesses for the department are located at local department offices. The hearing officer is located in his office. In some of the large, rural counties this procedure saves the Department of Social Services and the Division of Hearing Officers a significant amount of money. Also, cases are decided more quickly when this procedure is used. Courts have concluded that telephone conference calls do not violate due process rights as long as sufficient procedures exist to assure fundamental fairness. Casey v. O'Bannon, 536 F. Supp. 350 (E.D. Pa. 1982); Chobert v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 484 A.2d 223 (Pa. 1984). In Casey v. O'Bannon, a federal district court addressed whether public assistance applicants, who were required as a practical matter to pursue their claims through telephone hearings, were denied due process. The court looked to the three factors established in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334-335 (1976). First, the court found that the private interest weighs heavily in favor of the applicants. The court noted that without public assistance, recipients could not...

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