hearing(redirected from hearings)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Idioms, Encyclopedia.
A legal proceeding where an issue of law or fact is tried and evidence is presented to help determine the issue.
Hearings resemble trials in that they ordinarily are held publicly and involve opposing parties. They differ from trials in that they feature more relaxed standards of evidence and procedure, and take place in a variety of settings before a broader range of authorities (judges, examiners, and lawmakers). Hearings fall into three broad categories: judicial, administrative, and legislative. Judicial hearings are tailored to suit the issue at hand and the appropriate stage at which a legal proceeding stands. Administrative hearings cover matters of rule making and the adjudication of individual cases. Legislative hearings occur at both the federal and state levels and are generally conducted to find facts and survey public opinion. They encompass a wide range of issues relevant to law, government, society, and public policy.
Judicial hearings take place prior to a trial in both civil and criminal cases. Ex parte hearings provide a forum for only one side of a dispute, as in the case of a Temporary Restraining Order, whereas adversary hearings involve both parties. Preliminary hearings, also called preliminary examinations, are conducted when a person has been charged with a crime. Held before a magistrate or judge, a Preliminary Hearing is used to determine whether the evidence is sufficient to justify detaining the accused or discharging the accused on bail. Closely related are detention hearings, which can also determine whether to detain a juvenile. Suppression hearings take place before trial at the request of an attorney seeking to have illegally obtained or irrelevant evidence kept out of trial.
Administrative hearings are conducted by state and federal agencies. Rule-making hearings evaluate and determine appropriate regulations, and adjudicatory hearings try matters of fact in individual cases. The former are commonly used to garner opinion on matters that affect the public—as, for example, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers changing its rules. The latter commonly take place when an individual is charged with violating rules that come under the agency's jurisdiction—for example, violating a Pollution regulation of the EPA, or, if incarcerated, violating behavior standards set for prisoners by the Department of Corrections.Some blurring of this distinction occurs, which is important given the generally more relaxed standards that apply to some administrative hearings. The degree of formality required of an administrative hearing is determined by the liberty interest at stake: the greater that interest, the more formal the hearing. Notably, rules limiting the admissibility of evidence are looser in administrative hearings than in trials. Adjudicatory hearings can admit, for example, Hearsay that generally would not be permitted at trial. (Hearsay is a statement by a witness who does not appear in person, offered by a third party who does appear.) The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C.A. § 551 et seq.) governs administrative hearings by federal agencies, and state laws largely modeled upon the APA govern state agencies. These hearings are conducted by a civil servant called a Hearing Examiner at the state level and known as an administrative law judge at the federal level.
Legislative hearings occur in state legislatures and in the U.S. Congress, and are a function of legislative committees. They are commonly public events, held whenever a lawmaking body is contemplating a change in law, during which advocates and opponents air their views. Because of their controversial nature, they often are covered extensively by the media.
Not all legislative hearings consider changes in legislation; some examine allegations of wrongdoing. Although lawmaking bodies do not have a judicial function, they retain the power to discipline their members, a key function of state and federal ethics committees. Fact finding is ostensibly the reason for turning congressional hearings into public scandals. Often, however, critics will argue that these hearings are staged for attacking political opponents. Throughout the twentieth century, legislative hearings have been used to investigate such things as allegations of Communist infiltration of government and industry (the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings) and abuses of power by the Executive Branch (the Watergate and Whitewater hearings).
n. any proceeding before a judge or other magistrate (such as a hearing officer or court commissioner) without a jury in which evidence and/or argument is presented to determine some issue of fact or both issues of fact and law. While technically a trial with a judge sitting without a jury fits the definition, a hearing usually refers to brief sessions involving a specific question at some time prior to the trial itself, or such specialized proceedings as administrative hearings. In criminal law, a "preliminary hearing" is held before a judge to determine whether the prosecutor has presented sufficient evidence that the accused has committed a crime to hold him/her for trial. (See: trial, preliminary hearing, administrative hearing)
hearinga part of a court case with the judge present during which some essential matters are considered.
HEARING, chancery practice. The term, hearing is given to the trial of a
2. The hearing is conducted as follows. When the cause is called on in court, the pleadings on each side are opened in a brief manner to the court by the junior counsel for the plaintiff; after which the plaintiff's leading counsel states the plaintiff's case, and the points in issue, and submits to the court his arguments upon them. Then the depositions (if any) of the plaintiff's witnesses, and such parts of the defendant's answer as support the plaintiff's case are read by the plaintiff's solicitor; after which the rest of the plaintiff's counsel address the court; then the same course of proceedings is observed on the other side, excepting that no part of the defendant's answer can be read in his favor, if it be replied to; the leading counsel for the plaintiff is then heard in reply; after which the court pronounces the decree, Newl. Pr. 153, 4; 14 Vin. Ab. 233; Com. Dig. Chancery, T. 1, 2, 3.
HEARING, crim. law. The examination of a prisoner charged with a crime or
misdemeanor, and of the witnesses for the accuser.
2. The magistrate should examine with care all the witnesses for the prosecution, or so many of them as will satisfy his mind that there is sufficient ground to believe the prisoner guilty, and that the case ought to be examined in court and the prisoner ought to be tried. If, after the hearing of all such witnesses, the offence charged is not made out, or, if made out, the matter charged is not criminal, the magistrate is bound to discharge the prisoner.
3. When the magistrate cannot for want of time, or on account of the absence of a witness, close the hearing at one sitting, he may adjourn the case to another day, and, in bailable offences, either take bail from the prisoner for his appearance on that day, or commit him for a further hearing. See Further hearing.
4. After a final hearing, unless the magistrate discharge the prisoner, it is his duty to take bail in bailable offences, and he is the sole judge of the amount of bail to be demanded this, however, must not be excessive. He is the sole judge, also, whether the offence be bailable or not. When the defendant can give the bail required, he must be discharged; when not, he must be committed to the county prison, to take his trial, or to be otherwise disposed of according, to law. See 1 Chit. Cr. Law, 72, ch. 2.