59. How Should You Present Your Case at a Hearing?

Be sure to prepare your client and witnesses and determine whether you need to subpoena any witnesses and/or documents to the hearing.  G.L. c. 151A, § 43; G.L. c. 262, § 59. If necessary witnesses are unavailable for the hearing, obtain affidavits. You will generally be unable to obtain a continuance of the hearing date due to the unavailability of a nonparty witness (unless requested prior to the postponement date on the hearing notice).

There is no opening statement, and the review examiner usually conducts the initial examination of each party.

Prepare for direct examination of the claimant. This should include documents you wish to introduce into evidence. Bring three copies of each document—one for the review examiner, one for the other party, and one for yourself. In addition to your direct, prepare the client to answer potential open‑ended questions by the review examiner—e.g., “Were you fired or did you quit?” “Why?” You will also need to prepare your client for the employer’s cross-examination.

Also prepare for your cross‑examination of the employer and other potential witnesses. If the employer bring more than one witness, be sure and ask the review examiner to sequester the witnesses.

The closing statement should be very brief (aim for a couple of minutes). When you incorporate analysis of the applicable law, remember that review examiners hear these cases five times a day. Concentrate on facts introduced into the record that compel a finding of eligibility.

Prepare a memorandum of proposed findings and rulings of law before the hearing, see Appendix K, make the necessary revisions based on the testimony and exhibits produced at the hearing, and then seek permission to send it within 24 to 48 hours after the hearing. Assist the review examiner by citing the relevant facts and applying these facts to case law, especially "key" Board of Review decisions (see Introduction, Sources of Law Governing the UI Program), and Massachusetts Appellate Court decisions or to examples from the Service Representatives Handbook, particularly persuasive are those sections of the Handbook that have been revised in 2017 or later, it is unclear whether the earlier versions will be followed.

Remember that the hearing at this stage is the “trial” of the case with appellate review available through the Board of Review and the courts. For this reason, make sure that all relevant facts are introduced into evidence at the hearing. For a discussion about hearings in discharge cases where the employer fails to attend the hearing, (See Question 11).