A. The Hearing Panel is the designated fact-finding body. The Process Chair is the convener of the Hearing and keeps the official notes for the Minutes. The Process Chair may vote only to break a tie.
B. Four designated members of the Commission(s) conducting the Hearing, along with the Process Chair, must be present for a Hearing.
C. The investigator and association ethics or legal consultant may be present during the Hearing but will not participate in the vote on final actions taken.
D. Each party may submit to the Process Chair a written response to the materials it receives from the investigator. The response must be sent to the Process Chair within twenty-one calendar days from when the material is secure emailed or sent by other means as described in X.D to the party. The Hearing Panel may solicit additional information from a party or any other source but will not accept information provided at the party’s initiative after the twenty-one day period unless the Process Chair determines exceptional circumstances.
E. New information obtained from a party (see D above) will be shared with the other party at least two weeks prior to the Hearing if time permits. The party receiving the information will have the opportunity to respond to it during the Hearing.
F. A Hearing Panel member may implicate additional violations of standards previously not cited based on new information or reasonable interpretation of existing information. The respondent will be given notice not less than two weeks prior to the Hearing.
G. The Hearing may occur in person or via telephone or Internet voice connection.
H. The Hearing will usually be held within three months of the Process Chair’s receipt of the Investigator’s report and the responses to it from the parties.
I. If the Hearing is held in person, parties will receive at least one month’s written notification of the meeting date, time and place. Each party will be invited to meet for up to an hour with the Commission. Attendance will be at the party’s own expense. A party may appear even if the other elects not to appear.
J. If the Hearing is held electronically, parties will receive at minimum two-week’s written notification. The Process Chair will invite the parties to participate for up to one half hour each. If one party declines, the other may still be heard. The two Associations bear the cost of the electronic Hearing.
K. The Hearing Panel meets or speaks first with the complainant if he or she elects to participate, then with the respondent.
L. At its discretion, the Hearing Panel may invite written information, electronic testimony, or appearance at the Hearing by non-party witnesses. These witnesses are not required to comply, may be responsible for their own expenses, and should receive at least two weeks’ written notice of the Hearing.
M. The parties will not be present or heard at the same time before the Hearing Panel and will not be present for any portion of the Hearing other than their own testimony.
N. Each party may be accompanied by a support person who will not be permitted to speak to the Hearing Panel but is free to consult with the party. The party will bear any costs associated with the support person.
O. The Process Chair will explain the Hearing process to each party and give each an opportunity to make a brief opening and closing statement. The Hearing Panel will devote the remainder of the time to asking questions to clarify the written materials, witness testimony or any other relevant issues it elects to address. The party may not offer new evidence at this time.
P. The Hearing Panel may question the party about discrepancies in the information and invite the party’s explanation.
Q. The Hearing Panel may ask the party what he or she feels would be a reasonable outcome.
R. The Hearing Panel will make its decision based on a preponderance of the evidence. This is a qualitative not a quantitative standard of proof and means: “whether it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.”
S. When reviewing cases of racial or sexual harassment, the Hearing Panel will apply the “reasonable person” standard. The evidence will be reviewed from the perspective of a reasonable person similarly situated to the complainant in terms of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, disability, religious preference, and national origin.
T. The Hearing Panel will issue its findings in writing within twenty-one calendar days of the Hearing. No new evidence may be submitted or solicited at a party’s initiative after this review. The Hearing Panel at its discretion may seek clarification from any source.
U. After reviewing the evidence and deliberating, the Hearing Panel shall decide:
1. no violation of the Code occurred.
2. no violation of the Code occurred, but the Hearing Panel has concerns about the respondent’s practice, conduct or perspective. These concerns may be set forth in a letter of information that may offer suggestions for further action on the part of the respondent to address the concerns. This letter is not considered a reportable disciplinary action for any forum. The letter of information may be shared at the Panel’s discretion with the complainant.
3. a violation of the Code did occur and the Hearing Panel will consider sanctions.
V. When the Hearing Panel finds a violation did occur, it recommends one of the following sanctions:
1. Admonishment: The Hearing Panel finds that the member did violate the Code, acknowledges the violation, and that education regarding appropriate ethical conduct is proportionally sufficient to the violation and will insure future compliance with the Code of Ethics.
2. Reprimand: This is a serious rebuke of the member. It is based upon an assessment that the member has accepted full responsibility for the violation, articulates and understands the consequences of the violation, and that the Reprimand is proportionally sufficient to the violation and is adequate to ensure future compliance with the Code of Ethics. It may include increased supervision or other stipulations for continued practice and membership as recommended by the Hearing Panel.
3. Probation: It is unclear whether the member fully understands, can articulate empathically and accept responsibility for the violation and its consequences. For a designated period of time, the member will follow specific instructions under the direction of the Process Chair or designee. Before the member is restored to full status, the member will meet all the terms imposed by the Hearing Panel and appear before it to demonstrate fulfillment of the terms to its satisfaction.
4. Suspension: The Hearing Panel finds that the member does not understand and/or accept responsibility nor appreciate the serious nature and/or consequences of the violation. Removal of Certification and/or membership is not disproportionate to the violation. Either or both are removed until a specifically identified problem or condition is addressed to the satisfaction of the Professional Ethics Commission in conjunction with the Certification Commission of the respondent’s association. The member will meet with both Commissions or their designees to demonstrate compliance to their satisfaction before the suspension is recommended lifted.
Sanctions 2 – 4 may include the provision that for a specified period of time, the supervisor may not serve on regional or national committees, commissions, the Board and/or in other ACPE/APC leadership roles.
5. Recommendation for Withdrawal of Certification and/or Membership. In the Hearing Panel’s judgment, the member demonstrates an essential lack of professional knowledge, procedures, character, or conduct consistent with membership in ACPE.
This recommendation may also represent the judgment of the Hearing Panel that the member’s action constitutes a threat to the well being of the member, the Association and/or the public.
*The Process Chair informs the ACPE Executive Director, the President and President-elect of the recommended disposition of the case. If the respondent is a dual member with APC, the APC ED is also notified. These same people receive a copy of the deliberations, sent to the parties, that states the final disposition of the complaint. If sanctions result in suspension, withdrawal, removal from office, or enjoinment from practice, the parties shall be informed by the Process Chair within 24 hours of the decision.
W. The Process Chair may appoint a scribe, who may or may not be a Panel member, to take official minutes and a deliberations summary of the Final Case Review. These are available to the parties; personal notes of individual panel members are not and will be destroyed.