Skip to main content

Preparation for Your Hearing Before the Commission

 

You are involved as a party in a case scheduled for hearing before the Commission on Common Ownership Communities or the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs. At that hearing you will have an opportunity to defend your position. If you wish you may bring an attorney to represent you. Frequently, people choose to represent themselves; that is, ask their own questions, call their own witnesses, and make their own opening and closing statements. If you have decided to represent yourself, it is important that you understand your responsibilities as a participant and the various elements that make up a hearing.

  • Know your case - Keep in mind the subject of the dispute. Know all relevant dates, and bring all relevant receipts {originals where possible), Inform your witnesses who have agreed to testify of the hearing date. Discuss the case with your witnesses before they attend the hearing.
  • Be brief - Come prepared to present your case clearly and briefly. Do not discuss unrelated issues. Confine your questions and presentations to the subject of the dispute.
  • Need for an interpreter - If you do not speak or understand English very well, bring someone with you who is willing to interpret for you. The Commission can only make its decision on the evidence before it.

The Hearing

A hearing is like a trial, although it is less formal. The order of presentation is enclosed and you should review it. You will be speaking to a panel of three Commission members who will decide your case. A hearing is a fact-finding process and the Commission bases its decision solely on the record and the presentation before it. There are several elements which make up a hearing and you will want to be familiar and comfortable with each.

  • Opening Statements - An opening statement is your opportunity to summarize your side of the story. It could be compared to a road map. You will be telling the Commission what you expect your evidence to show, and how you wish the Commission to rule at the close of the hearing. This statement is not testimony. Both sides are given an opportunity to present an opening statement but either or both sides may decide to waive making a statement.
  • Complainant's Case - The Complainant presents its case after opening statements are made or waived. The Complainant now has the opportunity to be sworn as a witness, to offer testimony, and/or offer witnesses who speak on its behalf. The Complainant is expected to question its witnesses in order to present the facts. The Complainant and witnesses may be cross-examined by the Respondent and questioned by the Commission.
  • Calling Witnesses - The witness is sworn in and promises to tell the truth. The Complainant or Respondent then asks questions of the witness. The questions can be very general, such as, "Do you know why you are here today?" followed up by, "Tell the Commission what you know about this matter." Or, the questions can be extremely specific, such as "Did you attend the Board meeting held on the 25th of March?"
  • Again, confine your questions to facts concerning the complaint under consideration. Witnesses should answer your questions directly. It is helpful to list your questions in writing in advance. This will help you to remember all the questions you wish to ask your witnesses.
  • Once a witness has testified, he or she will then be cross examined by the Respondent and may be questioned by the Commission. If there is more than one witness, each witness will go through the same process.
  • Respondent's Case - The Respondent may choose to make its opening statement after the Complainant, or the Respondent may choose to wait until the close of the Complainant's case (when all the Complainant's witnesses have testified and have been questioned). The Respondent presents its case at the close of the Complainant's case. The Respondent now has the opportunity to be sworn as a witness, to offer testimony, and/or offer witnesses who speak on its behalf. The Respondent elicits the facts from its witnesses by asking questions. The Respondent's witnesses may also be cross-examined by the Complainant and questioned by the Commission.
  • Rebuttal - At the close of the Respondent's case the Complainant has the opportunity to present additional testimony to rebut the Respondent's testimony. This often involves calling back a witness who has already testified and asking further questions concerning information provided during the Respondent's case.
  • Closing Arguments - A closing argument is a summation. It provides each side an opportunity to review the evidence presented to the Commission and to emphasize testimony that supports a position and to tell the Commission what the Complainant or Respondent feels the evidence indicates. It is at this time, at the summation, that each side tells the Commission what it is requesting from the Commission.

Remember, the hearing has been called to resolve a dispute. At all times keep in mind that it is that dispute which will be decided. Your position and evidence supporting your position should be very clear to the Commission. Confine your testimony and your statements to issues and evidence concerning that dispute.

The next section outlines the order of presentation for administrative hearings before the Commission on Common Ownership Communities and the Commission on Landlord- Tenant Affairs. Feel free to address any questions you may have concerning the hearing process to the Office of Common Ownership Communities on (240) 777-3636 or to the Office of Landlord- Tenant Affairs at (240) 777-0311.

Order of the Presentation at Administrative Hearings of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities and the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs for Montgomery County, Maryland

  1. Panel Chairperson's Statement

    • This is the hearing by the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities or the Commission on Landlord- Tenant Affairs concerning the dispute filed by ________ against ________ relative to Case No ________.
    • This hearing is open to the public. Parties to the proceedings have the right to present testimony and evidence under oath and to present oral argument.
    • Please be advised that the Commission is not bound by the strict rules of evidence applicable to a judicial proceeding.
    • The hearing panel for this matter is ________, ________and ________.
    • The Assistant County Attorney for this hearing is ________.
    • Will the Complainant and his/her representative, if any, please identify themselves?
    • Will the Respondent and his/her representative, if any, please identify themselves?
    • May we have the identities of all those not previously identified who will be making statements or offering testimony?
    • Will the parties and all persons who will be making statements or testifying tonight please raise your right hand. Oath: Do you declare and affirm under the penalties of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true to the best of your knowledge, information and belief?
    • It is the Commission's intent to enter into the record of this proceeding as Commission's Exhibit 1, the contents of the Case File ________, compiled by the Office of Common Ownership Communities or the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs. Is there any objection by either party?
    • We will begin with opening statements, in which each of you will have an opportunity to describe briefly what you intend to prove.

      Next, Complainant will testify and witnesses will testify. Each witness will present testimony, and the Respondent will then cross-examine the witness regarding testimony given. The Commission then may ask questions, and the Complainant and Respondent may ask follow-up questions based on the Commission's inquiries.

      After all of Complainant's witnesses have testified, the same process will be followed for Respondent. Respondent will testify, as will any witnesses. Each witness may be cross-examined by Complainant and questioned by the Commission.

      When Respondent finishes, Complainant may rebut Respondent's case with additional evidence but only if the evidence has not been introduced previously. Rebuttal should not be used to repeat Complainant's entire case.

      After all evidence is in the record, the parties may present closing argument, which should be a summary of their evidence and an explanation of why they should prevail.
  2. Opening Statements

    • Each party may make a brief statement outlining their respective case -what they intend to prove.
    • Opening statements may be waived.
    • Respondent has the additional option of making his opening statement after Complainant's case-in-chief (which is also at the outset of Respondent's case/presentation of evidence).
  3. Commission Witnesses (OCP or OLTA Staffmembers)

    • Oath: Do you declare and affirm under the penalties of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true to the best of your knowledge, information and belief?
    • Witness's testimony
    • Questioning by Commissioners
    • Questioning by Complainant
    • Questioning by Respondent
  4. Complainant's Case-In-Chief

    • Oath: Do you declare and affirm under the penalties of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true to the best of your knowledge, information and belief?
    • Complainant's testimony
    • Cross-examination by Respondent
    • Cross-examination by Commissioners
    • Complainant's examination of his/her witnesses (Oath administered first)
    • Cross-examination by Respondent
    • Cross-examination by Commissioners
    • Redirect examination by Complainant
  5. Respondent's Case-In-Chief

    • Opening Statement (only if not waived or not made during Opening Statement, 11.B.)
    • Oath: Do you declare and affirm under the penalties of perjury that the testimony you are about to give is true to the best of your knowledge, information and belief?
    • Respondent's testimony
    • Cross-examination by Complainant
    • Cross-examination by Commissioners
    • Respondent's examination of his/her witnesses (Oath administered first)
    • Cross-examination by Complainant
    • Cross-examination by Commissioners
    • Redirect examination by Respondent
  6. Complainant's Rebuttal Testimony

    • Complainant’s testimony or examination of witness
    • Cross-examination of Respondent
    • Cross-examination by Commissioners
    • Re-direct examination of or by Complainant
  7. Closing Argument

    • Complainant
    • Respondent
    • Complainant’s rebuttal argument
  8. Panel Chairperson Closing

    • This concludes the public hearing in the matter of ________ vs. ________, Case No. ________. The parties will be notified in writing of the Commission’s decision in this matter within forty-five (45) days after the record has been closed.
Go Top