2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 227. Administrative procedure and review.
227.50 Ex parte communications in contested cases.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 227.50 (2017)

227.50 Ex parte communications in contested cases.

(1)

(a) Except as provided in par. (am), in a contested case, no ex parte communication relative to the merits or a threat or offer of reward shall be made, before a decision is rendered, to the hearing examiner or any other official or employee of the agency who is involved in the decision-making process, by any of the following:

1m. An official of the agency or any other public employee or official engaged in prosecution or advocacy in connection with the matter under consideration or a factually related matter. This subdivision does not apply to an advisory staff which does not participate in the proceeding.

2. A party to the proceeding, or any person who directly or indirectly would have a substantial interest in the proposed agency action or an authorized representative or counsel.

(am) Paragraph (a) does not apply to any of the following:

1. An ex parte communication which is authorized or required by statute.

2. An ex parte communication by an official or employee of an agency which is conducting a class 1 proceeding.

3. Any communication made to an agency in response to a request by the agency for information required in the ordinary course of its regulatory functions by rule of the agency.

4. In a contested case before the public service commission, an ex parte communication by or to any official or employee of the commission other than the hearing examiner, the chairperson, or a commissioner.

(2) A hearing examiner or other agency official or employee involved in the decision-making process who receives an ex parte communication in violation of sub. (1) shall place on the record of the pending matter the communication, if written, a memorandum stating the substance of the communication, if oral, all written responses to the communication and a memorandum stating the substance of all oral responses made, and also shall advise all parties that the material has been placed on the record; however, any writing or memorandum which would not be admissible into the record if presented at the hearing shall not be placed in the record, but notice of the substance or nature of the communication shall be given to all parties. Any party desiring to rebut the communication shall be allowed to do so, if the party requests the opportunity for rebuttal within 10 days after notice of the communication. The hearing examiner or agency official or employee may, if deeming it necessary to eliminate the effect of an ex parte communication received, withdraw from the proceeding, in which case a successor shall be assigned.

History: 1975 c. 94 s. 3; 1975 c. 414; 1977 c. 418; 1985 a. 182 s. 33t; Stats. 1985 s. 227.50; 2013 a. 28; 2015 a. 55.

The failure to notify the parties of the receipt of an ex parte communication was harmless error. Seebach v. PSC, 97 Wis. 2d 712, 295 N.W.2d 753 (Ct. App. 1980).

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