Rules of practice in proceedings relative to the private express statutes
959.1 Authority for rules.
959.2 Scope of rules.
959.3 Office address and business hours; electronic filing.
959.4 Demands for payment of postage.
959.5 Appeals from demands.
959.6 Revocations of suspension.
959.7 Notice of hearing.
959.8 Service of petition filed under §959.6.
959.9 Filing documents for the record.
959.11 Amendment of pleadings.
959.12 Continuances and extensions.
959.14 Change of place of hearings.
959.16 Presiding officers.
959.19 Witness fees.
959.22 Proposed findings and conclusions.
959.24 Exceptions to initial decision or tentative decision.
959.25 Judicial Officer.
959.26 Motion for reconsideration.
959.27 Modification or revocation of orders.
959.28 Computation of time.
959.29 Official record.
959.30 Public information.
959.31 Ex parte communications.
Authority: 39 U.S.C. 204, 401; 601-606; 18 U.S.C. 1693-1699; 5 U.S.C. 554; 39 CFR 310, 320.
These rules are issued by the Judicial Officer of the U.S. Postal Service pursuant to authority delegated by the Postmaster General.
These rules apply to all Postal Service proceedings in which Part 310 of this title authorizes appeals to the Judicial Officer from demands for postage for matter carried in violation of the Private Express Statutes, and in proceedings to revoke, as to any person, the suspension of provisions of the Private Express Statutes in accordance with Part 320 of this title.
(a) The offices of the officials identified in these rules are located at 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201-3078. Normal Business hours are between 8:45 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday except holidays.
(b) The Judicial Officer electronic filing system Web site is accessible 24 hours a day at https://uspsjoe.justware.com/justiceweb.
Final demands for payment of postage will be accompanied by a copy of these rules and will:
(a) State that the demand is final unless appealed under these rules within 15 days after receipt of the demand;
(b) Describe the transaction on which the demand is based and the provisions of law or regulation alleged to have been violated; and
(c) State the manner in which the amount of the demand is computed.
(a) A party upon whom a demand for postage has been made may appeal from the demand by filing a petition, in triplicate, with the Recorder, Judicial Officer Department, within 15 days after receipt of the demand.
(b) The petition shall:
(1) Be signed personally by an individual Petitioner, by one of the partners of a partnership, or by an officer of a corporation or association;
(2) State the reasons why the person filing the petition (designated the "Petitioner" in these rules) believes the demand is not justified;
(3) Admit or deny each fact alleged in the demand and allege any facts upon which the Petitioner relies to show compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and,
(4) Be accompanied by a copy of the demand.
(c) Factual allegations that are not denied by the petition may be deemed to have been admitted. The demand and the petition (together with other documents authorized in this part) shall become the pleadings in appeals from demands.
(a) The General Counsel, or a member of his or her staff as he or she may designate, may initiate a revocation of the suspension of the Private Express Statutes as provided in Part 320 of this title as to any person, by filing, in triplicate, a petition with the Recorder which
(1) Names the person involved;
(2) States the legal authority under which the proceeding is initiated;
(3) States the facts in a manner sufficient to enable the person named to make answer thereto; and,
(4) Recommends the issuance of an appropriate order.
(1) The person named in the petition (designated the "Respondent" in these rules) shall file an answer with the Recorder within 15 days after he or she is served with a copy of the petition in accordance with §959.8.
(2) The answer shall contain a concise statement admitting, denying, or explaining each of the allegations set forth in the petition.
(3) Any facts alleged in the petition which are not denied, or which are expressly admitted in the answer, may be considered as proved, and no further evidence regarding these facts need be adduced at the hearing.
(4) The answer shall be signed personally by an individual, or in the case of a partnership, by one of the partners, or, in the case of a corporation or association, by an officer thereof.
(5) The answer shall set forth the Respondent's address and the name and address of his or her attorney, if Respondent is represented by counsel.
(6) The answer shall affirmatively state whether the Respondent will appear in person or by counsel at the hearing.
(7) If the Respondent does not desire to appear at the hearing in person or by counsel, the matter shall be deemed submitted for determination pursuant to paragraph (b) of §959.10.
When a petition is filed, the Recorder shall issue a notice of hearing, stating the time and place of the hearing and the date for filing an answer which shall not exceed 15 days from the date of service of the petition, and a reference to the effect of failure to file an answer or appear at the hearing. (See §§959.5(c), 959.6(b), and 959.10.) Whenever practicable, the hearing date shall be within 30 days of the date of the notice.
(a) The Recorder shall cause a notice of hearing and a copy of the petition to be transmitted to the postmaster at any office of address of the Respondent in which the Respondent is doing business, which shall be delivered to the Respondent or Respondent's agent by said postmaster or the postmaster's designee. A receipt acknowledging delivery of the notice shall be secured from the Respondent or Respondent's agent and forwarded to the Recorder, to become a part of the official record.
(b) If, after 5 days, the postmaster or the postmaster's designee, can find no person to accept service of the notice of hearing and petition pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the notice and copy of the petition may be delivered in the usual manner as other mail addressed to the Respondent. A statement, showing the time and place of delivery, signed by the postal employee who delivered the notice of hearing and petition shall be forwarded to the Recorder and such statement shall constitute evidence of service.
(a) All documents required under this part must be filed using the electronic filing system unless the presiding officer permits otherwise. If both parties are participating in the electronic filing system, separate service upon the opposing party is not required. Otherwise, documents shall be served personally or by mail on the opposing party, noting on the document filed, or on the transmitting letter, that a copy has been so furnished.
(b) Documents shall be dated and state the title of the proceeding and, except initial petitions, the docket number. Documents submitted using the electronic filing system are considered filed as of the date/time (Eastern Time) reflected in the system. Documents mailed to the Recorder are considered filed on the date mailed as evidenced by a United States Postal Service postmark. Filings by any other means are considered filed upon receipt by the Recorder of a complete copy of the filing during normal business hours.
(a) If the Respondent fails to file an answer within the time specified in the notice of hearing, he or she shall be deemed in default and to have waived hearing and further procedural steps. The Judicial Officer shall thereafter issue an order without further notice to the Respondent.
(b) If the Respondent files an answer but fails to appear at the hearing, the presiding officer shall receive Petitioner's evidence and render an initial decision.
(a) Amendments proposed prior to the hearing shall be filed with the Recorder. Amendments proposed thereafter shall be filed with the presiding officer.
(b) By consent of the parties, a pleading may be amended at any time. Also, a party may move to amend a pleading at any time prior to the close of the hearing and, provided that the amendment is reasonably within the scope of the proceeding initiated by the petition, the presiding officer shall make such ruling on the motion as he or she deems fair and equitable to the parties.
(c) When issues not raised by the pleadings, but reasonably within the scope of the proceedings initiated by the petition, are tried by express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in all respects as if they had been raised in the pleadings. Such amendments as may be necessary to make the pleadings conform to the evidence, and to raise such issues, shall be allowed at any time upon the motion of any party.
(d) If a party objects to the introduction of evidence at the hearing on the ground that it is not within the issues made by the pleadings, but fails to satisfy the presiding officer that an amendment of the pleadings would prejudice him or her on the merits, the presiding officer may allow the amendment and may grant a continuance to enable the objecting party to rebut the evidence presented.
(e) The presiding officer may, upon reasonable notice and upon such terms as are just, permit service of supplemental pleadings setting forth transactions, occurrences, or events which have happened since the date of the pleading sought to be supplemented and which are relevant to any of the issues involved.
Continuances and extensions will not be granted by the presiding officer except for good cause found.
Hearings are held at 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201-3078, or other locations designated by the presiding officer.
Not later than the date fixed for the filing of the answer, a party may file a written request that a hearing be held at a place other than that designated in the notice. He or she shall support his or her request with a statement outlining:
(a) The evidence to be offered in such place;
(b) The names and addresses of the witnesses who will testify; and,
(c) The reasons why such evidence cannot be produced at Arlington, VA. The presiding officer shall give consideration to the convenience and necessity of the parties and the relevancy of the evidence to be offered.
(a) A Respondent may appear and be heard in person or by attorney.
(b) An attorney may practice before the Postal Service in accordance with the rules in Part 951 of this title.
(c) When a Respondent is represented by an attorney, all pleadings and other papers subsequent to the initial petition shall be mailed to the attorney.
(d) A Respondent must promptly file a notice of change of attorney.
(a) The presiding officer shall be either an Administrative Law Judge qualified in accordance with law, or the Judicial Officer. The Chief Administrative Law Judge shall assign cases to Administrative Law Judges upon rotation so far as practicable. The Judicial Officer may, for good cause found, preside at the reception of evidence in proceedings upon request of either party.
(b) The presiding officer shall have authority to:
(1) Administer oaths and affirmations;
(2) Examine witnesses;
(3) Rule upon offers of proof, admissibility of evidence and matters of procedure;
(4) Order any pleading amended upon motion of a party at any time prior to the close of the hearing;
(5) Maintain discipline and decorum and exclude from the hearing any person acting in an indecorous manner;
(6) Require the filing of briefs or memoranda of law on any matter upon which he or she is required to rule;
(7) Order prehearing conferences for the purpose of settlement or simplification of issues by the parties;
(8) Order the proceeding reopened at any time prior to his or her decision for the receipt of additional evidence; and,
(9) Render an initial decision if the presiding officer is an Administrative Law Judge, which becomes the final decision of the Postal Service unless a timely appeal is taken; the Judicial Officer may issue a tentative or a final decision.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in these rules, the rules of evidence governing civil proceedings in matters not involving trial by jury in the District courts of the United States shall govern. However, such rules may be relaxed to the extent that the presiding officer deems proper to insure a fair hearing. The presiding officer shall exclude irrelevant, immaterial or repetitious evidence.
(b) Testimony shall be under oath or affirmation and witnesses shall be subject to cross-examination.
(c) Agreed statements of fact may be received into evidence.
(d) Official notice or knowledge may be taken of the types of matters of which judicial notice or knowledge may be taken.
(e) The written statement of a competent witness may be received into evidence provided that such statement is relevant to the issues, that the witness shall testify under oath at the hearing that the statement is in all respects true, and, in the case of expert witnesses, that the statement correctly states his or her opinion or knowledge concerning the matters in question.
(f) A party who objects to the admission of evidence shall make a brief statement of the grounds for the objection. Formal exceptions to the rulings of the presiding officer are unnecessary.
The Postal Service is not authorized by law to issue subpoenas requiring the attendance or testimony of witnesses or the production of documents. This does not affect the authority of the Chief Postal Inspector to issue subpoenas for the production of documents or information pursuant to §233.1(c) of this chapter.
The Postal Service does not pay fees and expenses for a Respondent's witnesses or for depositions requested by a Respondent.
(a) Not later than 5 days after the filing of Respondent’s answer, any party may file an application with the Recorder for the taking of testimony by deposition. In support of such application, the applicant shall submit under oath or affirmation, a statement containing the reasons why such testimony should be taken by deposition, the time and place, and the name and address of the witness whose deposition is desired, the subject matter of the testimony of each witness, its relevancy, and the name and address of the person before whom the deposition is to be taken.
(b) If the application be granted, the order shall specify the time and place thereof, the name of the witness, the person before whom the deposition is to be taken, and any other necessary information.
(c) Each deponent shall first be duly sworn, and the adverse party shall have the right to cross-examine. The questions and answers, together with all objections, shall be reduced to writing and, unless waived by stipulation of the parties, shall be read to and subscribed by the witness in the presence of the deposition officer who shall certify it in the usual form. The deposition officer shall file the testimony taken by deposition as directed in the order. All objections made at the time of examination shall be noted by the deposition officer and the evidence objected to shall be taken subject to the objections. In lieu of participating in the oral examination, a party may transmit written interrogatories to the deposition officer, who shall propound them to the witness and record the answers verbatim. Objections to relevancy or materiality of testimony, or to errors and irregularities occurring at the oral examination in the manner of taking the deposition, in the form or relevancy or materiality of the questions or answers, in the oath or affirmation, or in the conduct of the parties, and errors of any kind which might be obviated, cured or removed if promptly presented, are waived unless timely objection is made at the taking of the deposition.
(d) At the hearing, any part or all of the deposition may be offered into evidence by any party who was present or represented at the taking of the deposition or who had notice thereof. If the deposition is not offered and received into evidence, it shall not be considered as a part of the record. The admissibility of depositions or parts thereof shall be governed by the rules of evidence.
(e) The party requesting the deposition shall pay all fees required to be paid to witnesses and the deposition officer, and shall provide an original and one copy thereof for the official record, and shall serve one copy upon the opposing party.
(f) Within the United States, or within a territory or possession subject to the dominion of the United States, depositions may be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths by the laws of the United States or of the place where the examination is held; within a foreign country, depositions may be taken before a secretary of an embassy or legation, consul general, vice consul or consular agent of the United States, or any other person designated in the order for the taking of the deposition.
(g) Depositions may also be taken and submitted on written interrogatories in substantially the same manner as depositions taken by oral examination. When a deposition is taken upon written interrogatories and cross-interrogatories, none of the parties shall be present or represented, and no person, other than the witness, a stenographic reporter, and the deposition officer, shall be present at the examination of the witness, which fact shall be certified by the deposition officer, who shall propound the interrogatories and cross-interrogatories to the witness in their order and cause the testimony to be reduced to writing in the witness' own words.
(a) Hearings shall be stenographically reported by a contract reporter of the Postal Service under the supervision of the assigned presiding officer. Argument upon any matter may be excluded from the transcript by order of the presiding officer. A copy of the transcript shall be a part of the record and the sole official transcript of the proceeding. Copies of the transcript shall be supplied to the parties by the reporter at rates not to exceed the maximum rates fixed by the contract between the Postal Service and the reporter. Copies of parts of the official record, other than the transcript, may be obtained by the Respondent from the reporter upon the payment of a reasonable price therefor.
(b) Changes in the official transcript may be made only when they involve errors affecting substance, and then only in the manner herein provided. No physical changes shall be made in or upon the official transcript, or copies thereof, which have been filed with the record. Within 10 days after the receipt by any party of a copy of the official transcript, or any part thereof, a party may file a motion requesting correction of the transcript. The opposing party shall, within such time as may be specified by the presiding officer, notify the presiding officer in writing of his or her concurrence or disagreement with the requested corrections. Failure to interpose timely objection to a proposed correction shall be considered to be concurrence. Thereafter, the presiding officer shall by order specify the corrections to be made in the transcript. The presiding officer on his or her own initiative may order corrections to be made in the transcript with prompt notice to the parties of the proceeding. Any changes ordered by the presiding officer other than by agreement of the parties shall be subject to objection and exception.
(a) Each party, except one who fails to answer the complaint or, having answered, either fails to appear at the hearing or indicates in the answer that he or she does not desire to appear, may submit proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and supporting reasons either in oral or written form. The presiding officer may also require the parties to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law with supporting reasons.
(b) Proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and supporting reasons not presented orally before the close of the hearing, shall, unless otherwise directed by the presiding officer, be filed within 15 days after the delivery of the official transcript to the Recorder, who shall notify the parties of the date of its receipt. The proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law and supporting reasons shall be set forth in serially numbered paragraphs, and shall state with particularity, all pertinent evidentiary facts in the record with appropriate citations to the transcript or exhibits supporting the proposed findings. Each proposed conclusion of law shall be separately stated.
(a) Oral decisions. The presiding officer may, in his or her discretion, render an oral decision (an initial decision by an Administrative Law Judge, or a tentative or final decision by the Judicial Officer) at the close of the hearing. A party who desires an oral decision shall notify the presiding officer and the opposing party at least 5 days prior to the date set for the hearing. Either party may submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law either orally or in writing at the conclusion of the hearing.
(b) Written initial decision by Administrative Law Judge. A written initial decision shall be rendered with all due speed. The initial decision shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law, with the reasons therefor, upon all the material issues of fact or law presented on the record, and an appropriate order. The initial decision shall become the final decision of the Postal Service unless an appeal is taken in accordance with §959.24.
(c) Written tentative or final decision by the Judicial Officer. When the Judicial Officer presides at the hearing, he or she shall issue a final or a tentative decision. Such decision shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law, with the reasons therefor, upon all the material issues of fact or law presented on the record, and appropriate order. The tentative decision shall become the final decision of the Postal Service unless exceptions are filed in accordance with §959.24.
(a) A party in a proceeding presided over by an Administrative Law Judge, except a party who failed to file an answer, may appeal to the Judicial Officer by filing exceptions in a brief on appeal within 15 days from the receipt of the Administrative Law Judge's written initial decision.
(b) A party in a proceeding presided over by the Judicial Officer, except one who has failed to file an answer, may file exceptions within 15 days from the receipt of the Judicial Officer's written tentative decision.
(c) When an initial or tentative decision is rendered orally at the close of the hearing, the presiding officer may then establish and orally give notice to the parties participating in the hearing of the time limit within which exceptions must be filed.
(d) Upon receipt of the brief on appeal from an initial decision of an Administrative Law Judge, the Recorder shall promptly transmit the record to the Judicial Officer. The date for filing the reply to a brief on appeal or to a brief in support of exceptions to a tentative decision by the Judicial Officer is 10 days after the receipt thereof. No additional briefs shall be received unless requested by the Judicial Officer.
(e) Briefs on appeal or in support of exceptions and replies thereto shall be filed in triplicate with the Recorder, and contain the following matter in the order indicated:
(1) A subject index of the matters presented, with page references; a table of cases alphabetically arranged; a list of statutes and texts cited, with page references.
(2) A concise abstract or statement of the case.
(3) Numbered exceptions to specific findings of fact or conclusions of law of the presiding officer.
(4) A concise argument clearly setting forth points of fact and of law relied upon in support of, or in opposition to, each exception taken, together with specific references to the pertinent parts of the record and the legal or other authorities relied upon.
(f) Unless permission is granted by the Judicial Officer, no brief on appeal or in support of exceptions shall exceed 50 printed or 100 typewritten pages double spaced.
(g) The Judicial Officer will extend the time to file briefs only upon written motion for good cause found. The Recorder shall promptly notify the movant of the Judicial Officer's decision on the motion. If a brief is not filed within the time prescribed, the defaulting party will be deemed to have abandoned the appeal or waived the exceptions, and the initial or tentative decision shall become the final decision of the Postal Service.
The Judicial Officer is authorized (a) to act as presiding officer at hearings, (b) to render tentative decisions, (c) to render final decisions of the Postal Service, (d) to refer the record in any proceedings to the Postmaster General or the Deputy Postmaster General who will make the final decision of the Postal Service and, (e) to revise or amend these rules of practice. The entire official record will be considered before a final decision of the Postal Service is rendered. Before rendering a final decision of the Postal Service, the Judicial Officer may order the hearing reopened for the presentation of additional evidence by the parties.
A party may file a motion for reconsideration of a final decision of the Postal Service within 10 days after receiving it, or within such longer period as the Judicial Officer may fix. Each motion for reconsideration shall be accompanied by a brief clearly setting forth the points of fact and of law relied upon in support of said motion.
A party against whom an order has been issued may file with the Recorder an application for modification or revocation, addressed to the Judicial Officer. The Recorder shall transmit a copy of the application to the General Counsel, who shall file a written reply within 10 days after filing, or such other period as the Judicial Officer may fix. A copy of the reply shall be sent to the applicant by the Recorder. Thereafter an order granting or denying such application in whole or in part will be issued by the Judicial Officer.
A designated period of time excludes the day the period begins, and includes the last day of the period unless the last day is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, in which event the period runs until the close of business on the next business day.
The transcript of testimony together with all pleadings, orders, exhibits, briefs and other documents filed in the proceedings shall constitute the official record of the proceeding.
The Librarian of the Postal Service maintains for public inspection in the Library copies of all initial, tentative and final decisions of the Postal Service. The Recorder maintains the complete official record of every proceeding.
The provisions of 5 U.S.C. 551(14), 556(d) and 557(d) prohibiting ex parte communications are made applicable to proceedings under these rules of practice.