2020 Georgia Code
Title 47 - Retirement and Pensions
Chapter 17 - Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund
Article 2 - Administration and Management of the Assets of the Fund
§ 47-17-27. Board Authorized to Employ Hearing Officer; Powers and Duties of Hearing Officer; Appeal

Universal Citation: GA Code § 47-17-27 (2020)
  1. The board is authorized and empowered to appoint and compensate a hearing officer for the purpose of holding hearings, compiling evidence and information, and submitting evidence, information, and recommendations to the board in any contested case.
  2. The hearing officer shall have the authority to do the following in connection with any hearing: administer oaths and affirmations; sign and issue subpoenas; rule upon offers of proof; regulate the course of the hearing, set the time and place for the hearing or any continued hearings, and fix the time for filing any briefs; provide for the taking of testimony by deposition or interrogatory; and reprimand or exclude from the hearing any person for any indecorous or improper conduct committed in the presence of the hearing officer. When a subpoena issued by the hearing officer is disobeyed, any interested party may apply to the superior court of the county where the hearing is being held for an order requiring obedience. Failure to comply with such order shall be cause for punishment as for contempt of court. Any applicant for disability benefits shall have the right to be represented by counsel before the hearing officer.
  3. With respect to all hearings before the hearing officer:
    1. Irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded. The rules of evidence as applied in the trial of civil nonjury cases in the superior courts shall be followed. Evidence not admissible under such rules of evidence may be admitted if it is of a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs. The hearing officer shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law; and
    2. Documentary evidence may be received in the form of copies or excerpts if the original is not readily available. At the discretion of the hearing officer, the original shall be compared with the copy or excerpt.
  4. The hearing officer, within 30 days from the close of the evidence or, if necessary, a longer period of time approved by the board, shall certify the entire record from the hearing to the board, together with his or her recommendation on the application. On review of the entire record from the hearing officer, the board shall have all the powers it would have in presiding at the reception of the evidence. In its discretion, the board may take additional testimony or remand the matter to the hearing officer for such purpose. The recommendation of the hearing officer to the board shall be made a part of the record before the board.
  5. As a part of its decision subsequent to any hearing, the board shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law, separately stated, and the effective date of the decision. The decision of the board shall be mailed to the parties as soon after the rendition of the decision as is practicable.
  6. Any party who is adversely affected by any final decision of the board may seek judicial review of the final decision of the board in the Superior Court of Spalding County. Proceedings for review shall be instituted by filing a petition with the court within 30 days after the decision is rendered. A copy of the petition shall be served upon the board. The petition shall state the nature of the petitioner's interest, the facts showing that the petitioner is aggrieved by the decision of the hearing officer, and the grounds upon which the petitioner contends the decision should be reversed or remanded. The petition may be amended with leave of the court.
  7. Within 30 days after the service of the petition or within further time allowed by the court, the hearing officer shall transmit to the reviewing court the original or a certified copy of the entire record of the proceeding under review. By agreement of the petitioner, the record may be shortened. The court may require or permit subsequent corrections or additions to the record.
  8. The filing of the petition shall in no manner stay the enforcement of the decision of the hearing officer.
  9. The review shall be conducted by the court without a jury and shall be confined to the record. The court shall not substitute its judgment for that of the hearing officer as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. The court may affirm the decision of the hearing officer or remand the case for further proceedings. The court may reverse the decision of the hearing officer if substantial rights of the petitioner have been prejudiced because the findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions of the hearing officer are:
    1. In violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;
    2. In excess of the statutory authority of the hearing officer;
    3. Made upon unlawful procedure;
    4. Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record; or
    5. Arbitrary or capricious.
  10. A petitioner who is aggrieved by an order of the court in a proceeding authorized under this Code section may appeal to the Supreme Court of Georgia or the Court of Appeals of Georgia in accordance with Title 5.

(Code 1981, §47-17-27, enacted by Ga. L. 2012, p. 769, § 1/HB 928.)

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