TITLE 39 CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS
Rules of Practice in
Proceedings Relative to Mail Disputes
965.1 Authority for rules.
965.2 Scope of rules.
965.3 Notice to parties.
965.4 Presiding officers.
965.5 Submittals by parties.
965.6 Comments by parties.
965.11 Initial decision.
965.13 Compromise and informal disposition.
965.14 Public information.
Authority: 39 U.S.C. 204, 401.
As issued at 63 Fed. Reg. 66,049 (1998), unless otherwise noted.
These rules of practice are issued by the Judicial Officer of the U.S. Postal Service pursuant to authority delegated by the Postmaster General (39 C.F.R. 224.1(c)(4)).
The rules in this part shall be applicable to mail dispute cases forwarded to the Judicial Officer Department by the Chief Field Counsel pursuant to Postal Operations Manual section 616.21.
Upon receipt of a mail dispute case from the Chief Field Counsel, the Recorder, Judicial Officer Department, United States Postal Service, 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201-3078, will send a notice of docketing and submittal due date to the parties together with a copy of these rules.
(a) The presiding officer shall be an Administrative Law Judge or an Administrative Judge qualified in accordance with law or any other qualified person licensed to practice law designated by the Judicial Officer to preside over a proceeding conducted pursuant to this part. The Judicial Officer assigns cases under this part. Judicial Officer includes Associate Judicial Officer upon delegation thereto. The Judicial Officer may, on his or her own initiative or for good cause found, preside at the reception of evidence.
(b) The presiding officer has authority to:
(1) Take such action as may be necessary to preside properly over the proceeding and render decision therein;
(2) Render an initial decision, if the presiding officer is not the Judicial Officer, which becomes the final agency decision unless a timely appeal is taken; the Judicial Officer may issue a tentative or a final decision.
Within 15 days after receipt of the Recorder’s notice, each party shall file with the Recorder a sworn statement of the facts supporting its claim to receipt of the mail together with a copy of each document on which it relies in making such claim. All such submittals shall be in duplicate. Upon receipt of such evidence, the Recorder shall send a copy of each submittal to the opposing party.
Within 10 days of receipt of the other party’s evidence, each party may file with the Recorder a statement setting forth in detail its disagreements, if any, with its opponent’s statement and documents. The Recorder will send to each party a copy of the other party’s comments.
A party who fails to file the submittal required by §965.5 may be held in default and the presiding officer may issue an initial decision that mail be delivered to the other party.
(a) In the discretion of the presiding officer an oral hearing may be granted at the request of either, or both, parties or on the presiding officer’s own initiative if there is a dispute as to a material issue of fact which can only be resolved by examination of witnesses.
(b) Hearings are held at 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201-3078, or at such other place as may be designated by the presiding officer.
(a) In general, admissibility will hinge on relevancy and materiality. However, relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.
(b) Testimony shall be given under oath or affirmation and witnesses are subject to cross-examination.
(c) Agreed statements to fact are encouraged and may be received in evidence.
Testimony and argument at hearings shall be reported verbatim, unless the presiding officer otherwise orders. Transcripts or copies of the proceedings are supplied to the parties at such rate as may be fixed by contract between the reporter and Postal Service.
The presiding officer shall render an initial decision in writing, based on the record, as expeditiously as possible, but to the extent practicable within 10 working days of closing of the record. The decision will be brief, containing summary findings of fact, conclusions of law, and reasons therefor. If there has been a hearing the presiding officer may in his or her discretion render an oral decision. A typed copy of such oral decision will subsequently be furnished to the parties to establish the date for commencement of time for requesting review of the initial decision.
The initial or tentative decision will become final 10 days after its issuance and receipt by the parties unless the Judicial Officer, or by delegation the Associate Judicial Officer, in his or her sole discretion, grants review upon appeal of either party filed within that period, or on his or her own motion within that period. If an appeal is denied, the initial or tentative decision becomes the final agency decision on the issuance of such denial. The Judicial Officer’s decision on appeal is the final agency decision with no further agency review or appeal rights.
Nothing in these rules precludes the compromise, settlement, and informal disposition of proceedings initiated under these rules at any time prior to the issuance of the final agency decision.
The Librarian of the Postal Service maintains for public inspection in the Library copies of all initial, tentative, and final agency decisions and orders. The Recorder maintains the complete official record of every proceeding.