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Riddle v Chrysler Corp 16.59

Sections 29(1)(b), 33

EVIDENCE, Hearsay, Referee assistance, Unrepresented party, Adjournment of hearing, Board Rule 207.

CITE AS: Riddle v Chrysler Corp., Wayne Circuit Court, No. 86-612033-AE, (March 4, 1987).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Joe Riddle

Employer: Chrysler Corp.

Docket No. B85-10733-101268W

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: The Referee properly excluded hearsay written statements of alleged witnesses to an incident. The Referee did not err in not adjourning the hearing to subpoena two alleged witnesses.

FACTS: There was an argument between the claimant and the superintendent at the plant where claimant worked. The superintendent and a supervisor testified the claimant struck the superintendent during this altercation. The claimant denied he struck the superintendent. In support of his version of events the claimant, who was unrepresented, offered two written statements from alleged witnesses to the altercation which stated the claimant did not strike the superintendent. These two witnesses did not appear nor were they subpoenaed. The Referee did not allow the written statements into the record and did not adjourn the hearing to allow the claimant to subpoena the witnesses.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified under Section 29(1)(b).

RATIONALE: While Rule 207 of the Rules of Practice before the Referees and the MES Board of Review imposes a duty on the Referee to assist an unrepresented party, that duty is qualified by the obligation to be impartial and to secure competent evidence. Consistent with that duty the Referee had no obligation to admit the written hearsay statements. Additionally Rule 207 does not require the Referee to adjourn a hearing to provide an unrepresented party the opportunity to subpoena two witnesses who allegedly saw the incident and offered written statements in favor of claimant's version of the events. It is the duty of the parties, not the Referee, to secure the attendance of necessary witnesses.


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