I think it's fair to say that we all endeavor to run hearings in a fair but also efficient manner. To that end, we try to curb parties from:
- continuously repeating themselves,
- asking leading questions,
- using their "question-time" to repeat their testimony, and
- keeping to "the facts" when they are given opportunity to describe the incident in their terms.
We run our hearings in very much the same model and basically the same sequence (Appendix M) we all know.
But, Appendix M is "only advisory" and even in its title they are "Recommendations".
If you look at what is in Rule 63, which actually dictates what is required regarding the conduct of the hearing, it is quite brief and boils-down to just 3 things [bullets added]
63.6. Taking Evidence and Finding Facts
- The protest committee shall take the evidence of the parties present at the hearing and of their witnesses and other evidence it considers necessary [...]
- A party present at the hearing may question any person who gives evidence.
- The committee shall then find the facts and base its decision on them.
But what is "evidence"? The word "evidence" (undefined by the RRS) is defined in Merriam-Webster as ...
Definition of evidence
a : an outward sign
b : something that furnishes proof
Can "evidence" be interpreted as excluding "opinion" about the rules?
If you look at the last line of M3.2, the use of "particularly" would imply a broader definition of evidence which includes the rule opinions of the parties ... also "particularly" seems to imply an importance to their inclusion.
M3.2 (last line) " Invite first the protestor and then the protestee to make a final statement of her case, particularly on any application or interpretation of the rules.".
Now to the questions:
- Can the Chair of the Jury limit the interpretation of "evidence" such that it is limited to only the facts of the incident and information which relates to those facts?
- Can the Chair cut-off/redirect testimony of a party (in an attempt at expediency and to keep things on task) when the party attempts to integrate the rules they believe apply when recounting the incident, limiting the party to describing only "what happened"?
- If "yes" to either 1 or 2, does a party have the right to provide their opinion of how the rules applied in the incident before the hearing closes?
- If so, can the party replay their previous testimony (even though it is redundant) and integrate their rule interpretations if that manner and style is more comfortable for them?