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Writing a Brief
What is a brief?
After the employer or the claimant appeals a Hearing Officer's decision, both parties have an opportunity to file briefs with the Industrial Claim Appeals Office (usually referred to as "the Panel"). The brief is the party's written argument explaining the reasons that the Hearing Officer's decision should be set aside, reversed, or affirmed. (A Hearing Officer's decision is left in place or "affirmed" when the Panel decides that the Hearing Officer did not make any errors requiring that the decision be changed. A decision is "reversed" when the Panel decides that the Hearing Officer made errors and that the decision should have reached the opposite result. A decision is "set aside" when the Panel decides that the Hearing Officer made errors and that further proceedings are necessary so that the Hearing Officer can reconsider his or her decision in light of the Panel's order. In this last case, the claim is returned to the Hearing Officer and he or she will write another decision that may then be appealed again.)
If I made all my arguments in my letter appealing the Hearing Officer's decision, do I still need to file a brief?
You may still file a brief if you wish. However, if after you review the hearing recording you decide that your appeal letter contains all the arguments you wish to make, then it is not necessary to file a brief that merely repeats those arguments. The Administrative Law Judges on the Panel will review and consider your appeal letter whether or not you file a brief.
When do I file the brief?
When a party appeals a Hearing Officer's decision to the Panel, a notice is sent out stating that the appeal has been filed and it is your opportunity to file a brief along with a copy of the hearing recording(s). The notice will tell you when your brief is due to the ICAO. (The parties have 12 days from the date of the mailing of the Notice of Appeal and Opportunity to File Brief within which to file the brief.)
What should I include in the brief?
You can include anything in the brief that you believe the Administrative Law Judges on the Panel should consider in resolving the appeal. However, their review of the Hearing Officer's decision is very narrow. The Administrative Law Judges on the Panel do not review the case in order to decide how they would have ruled had they been in the place of the Hearing Officer. Rather, the Administrative Law Judges may only review the Hearing Officer's decision and the record created below to determine whether he or she made certain types of errors. In general, it is the job of the Hearing Officer to listen to the testimony, review the evidence, and determine the "facts" of the case. He or she then applies the unemployment law to those facts and determines the issue presented at the hearing. (Usually, although not always, the issue is whether the claimant receives an award of unemployment benefits or is disqualified.)
The Panel may review the case to determine whether the Hearing Officer's factual findings are supported by the testimony and evidence. The Panel may also review the case to determine whether the Hearing Officer's determination is supported by the law. The Panel may also review the case to determine whether the Hearing Officer made certain errors in conducting the hearing. However, the Panel may not simply "reconsider" the testimony and evidence and decide on its own version of the facts. In other words, the Hearing Officer, and not the Panel, decides what testimony to believe and what testimony to reject. Except in the most unusual circumstances, the Panel may not set aside the Hearing Officer's decision on the ground that he or she mistakenly believed or disbelieved certain testimony or evidence. It is therefore rarely helpful to argue to the Panel in a brief that some particular testimony was truthful or untruthful.
What if I cannot play the hearing recording on a computer?
If you do not have access to a computer at home, go to a library or the closest workforce center to your area to access the recording. For a list of work force centers, go to
. If you still cannot locate a computer to listen to the hearing recording, you can pay a fee to get a copy of the hearing transcript. If you cannot afford a copy of the hearing transcript, you can apply for a transcrpt fee waiver to be approved by the panel.
Application for Transcript Fee Waiver
Does the brief have to be in any sort of "legal" form to be accepted?
No. Although there are conventions that are used by lawyers in writing a brief, it is not necessary that you follow them. (In general a brief filed by a lawyer will contain a short introduction of the matter to be reviewed, a statement of the issues, an argument along with supporting rationale, citations of authority and references to the record, and a conclusion stating the precise relief sought. The courts have found this form to be useful in setting out a party's argument on appeal.) However, your brief may be in any form, including in letter form or in narrative form. In general, whatever form is used should set forth the reasons you believe the Hearing Officer's decision should be either set aside, reversed, or affirmed. The brief should include the facts that are relevant to those reasons and any argument in support of the result you are seeking in the appeal.
How long should the brief be?
There is no page limit or maximum permissible length. However, it is important that the brief be concise. Matters that are not directly pertinent to the appeal of the Hearing Officer's decision should be omitted and the brief should be written in a way that is direct and to the point.
If I feel as though I left something out at the hearing can I "supplement" my testimony or my evidence by including additional facts or materials with my brief?
No. The Panel reviews the record that was created at the hearing and makes its decision based on that record. Therefore, the briefing process is not an opportunity for parties to submit additional testimony, documents, or other evidence that was not presented at the hearing. If you are unsure whether you are submitting "new" evidence, you may include it with your brief and the Panel will determine whether it can be considered. Also, if you have newly-discovered evidence that could not have been produced at the time of the hearing, you may explain in your brief why the evidence was not previously presented and ask the Panel to remand (return) the case to the Hearing Officer for consideration of the evidence.
What if I need to respond to statements made in the other party's brief? Am I able to do that?
The Administrative Law Judges on the Panel are highly experienced in recognizing the pertinent evidence and the merits of the arguments made on appeal. Therefore, in many cases, the Panel does not need the parties to respond to statements made in the other party's brief, and allowing a response brief results in unnecessary delay. If, however, the Panel determines that a response brief is appropriate in a particular case, the parties will be notified in writing and a due date for the response brief will be assigned.
If you feel strongly that a response brief needs to be filed, you may file a written motion (request) and explain why you feel a response brief is necessary. The panel may or may not grant the motion.
How do I "file" the brief with the Industrial Claim Appeals Office?
You may send the brief by mail, facsimile transmission (fax), email or hand-deliver it to the offices of the Panel. In any case, the brief must be received on or by the due date stated on the Panel's notice. The Panel's fax number is 303-318-8139 and it is available for use at all times, every day. The Panel's mailing address is: ICAO, P.O. Box 18291, Denver, CO 80218. The Panel's e-mail address is
. Please choose only one method for filing your brief.
Do I have to send copies of my brief to the other parties?
No. In every case the Panel will send a copy of the appealing party's brief to the opposing party. If a response brief is filed, the appealing party may request a copy of the response brief. Copies of the response brief are not automatically sent to the appealing party because the Panel's procedures do not include an opportunity to respond to the response brief. This is consistent with the briefing process in Colorado courts and other administrative proceedings.