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      CHC 423     


Art. 423.  Hearing officers

A.(1)  The judge or judges of the court may appoint one or more hearing officers to hear child support and support-related matters and to conduct preadjudication hearings and resolve matters preliminary to adjudication in any proceeding authorized by this Code.  The judge or judges of the court may request that the clerk of court supply additional personnel, subject to approval of the local governing authority, to support the functions of the additional hearing officers, the cost of which shall be paid by the court.

(2)  Notwithstanding any other provisions to the contrary, the judge or judges of the court may authorize one or more hearing officers to accept any agreement reached in a mediation ordered by the court, pursuant to Chapter 6 of Title IV of this Code, regardless of the stage of the case which said agreement would adjudicate.  In accepting the mediated agreement from the parties, the hearing officer shall be authorized to perform any duties described in Paragraph C of this Article, including but not limited to making such findings as may be required by law.

(3)  No state funds shall be expended to cover the cost of hearing officers or additional personnel provided by the clerk of court.

B.  The hearing officer shall be a full-time or part-time employee of the court and shall be an attorney who has practiced for five or more years before the juvenile court and is a member in good standing of the Louisiana State Bar Association.  If a part-time employee, the limitations upon the hearing officer's practice of law shall be resolved by local rules.

C.  The hearing officer shall perform such duties as are assigned in accordance with local rules not inconsistent with this Article or with the constitution and laws of the state, including:

(1)  Administering oaths.

(2)  Compelling the attendance of witnesses and issuing subpoenas.

(3)  Taking testimony.

(4)  Making a record of the hearings.

(5)  Summarizing testimony, making findings of fact, and submitting a written recommendation to the court concerning the disposition of the assigned matter.

(6)  Hearing and making recommendations on all restraining orders and protective orders filed in accordance with Articles 1569 and 1570.

D.  In the performance of any judicial assignment, the hearing officer shall be bound by the provisions of this Code governing the authority and responsibility of a juvenile court judge.

E.  The hearing officer shall file his report and recommendations with the court, and a copy shall be promptly provided to all parties or their counsel of record either at the hearing or by mail.

F.  Within ten days after transmittal of the hearing officer's report and recommendation, any aggrieved party may serve and file objections in writing to findings or recommendations.  The court will then hear the case de novo and enter judgment.  For hearings utilizing the expedited process for establishment of paternity and establishment or enforcement of support, the delay for serving and filing objections shall be established pursuant to local rule as provided in R.S. 46:236.5.

G.  If no objection has been timely filed and if the court approves the hearing officer's findings and recommendations, the court shall enter the proposed order as the judgment of the court which thereafter may be appealed in the same manner as any other appeal from any other judgment of the court.

Acts 1991, No. 235, §4, eff. Jan. 1, 1992; Acts 1999, No. 861, §1; Acts 2001, No. 426, §1, eff. June 15, 2001; Acts 2003, No. 664, §1; Acts 2003, No. 891, §1; Acts 2005, No. 160, §1.

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