Tuesday, February 16, 2010

admin. law - hearsay - due process

Speight v. Dept. of Corrections - Cmwlth. Court - February 16, 2010


This case involves proof of the DOC's costs for medical treatment, which it sought to be placed on Speight, the prisoner-petitioner.

Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Bonegre v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Bertolini’s), 863 A.2d 68 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004).

In an administrative hearing, hearsay evidence, admitted without objection, will be given its natural probative effect and may support a finding but only if competent evidence of record corroborates it. Walker v. UCBR, 367 A.2d 366 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1976).3

While [the petitioner] did not object to the admission of the medical bills, the Department, despite citing to Walker, has failed to cite anywhere in the record where those bills were corroborated by any competent evidence. In this case, all that [the DOC witness] did was go over each invoice and state the amount on the invoice. In the case of the invoice from the hospital where there were itemized amounts, she indicated what each amount was for. The other two invoices merely had a total due. She could not identify who created the document and who redacted the information pertaining to the phone numbers and addresses.

Because this Court has previously held that corroboration of the unobjected-to document is required, see Lee v. Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, 885 A.2d 634 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005), and there was no corroboration in this case, there was a violation of the hearsay rule.

3 The Walker Rule is not truly a rule of evidence but based on the principle that fundamental due process requires that no adjudication be based solely upon hearsay evidence. Buchanan v. Verbonitz, 525 Pa. 413, 581 A.2d 172, 175 (1990) (quoting with approval Justice Flaherty’s concurring opinion in UCBR v. Ceja, 493 Pa. 588, 427 A.2d 631, 643 (1981)).

admin. law - petition for review - record - newly-discovered evidence

Grever v. UCBR - Cmwlth. Coourt - February 16, 2010


The Commonwealth Court refused the claimant's request to take judicial notice of a pleading in a related case (before the Human Relations Commn.) where

- the pleading came into being after the the UC referee decision but before the UCBR decision
- the claimant did not ask the UCBR for permission to submit newly-discovered evidence
- the claimant appealed to Cmwlth. Court and attached the pleading to the Petition for Review
- claimant did not ask the court to take judicial notice of the document

The Commonwealth Court, when reviewing matters in its appellate capacity, is bound by the facts certified in the record on appeal. Cambria County Mental Health/Mental Retardation v. State Civil Service Commission, 756 A.2d 103, 106 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2000).

Although a court “may take judicial notice of filings or developments in related proceedings which take place after the judgment appealed from.” See Werner v. Werner, 267 F.3d 288, 295 (3d Cir. 2001), issues not raised at the earliest possible time during a proceeding are waived. Dehus v. UCBR, 545 A.2d 434 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1988).

The Claimant here, although able to do so, failed to present the documents prior to the Board issuing its decision. Allowing Claimant to present the documents now would usurp the Board’s role as the fact-finder and arbiter of credibility. Thus, judicial notice will not be taken of records which were available to Claimant prior to but presented after the Board’s decision was issued.