Formal Disciplinary Proceedings
If a settlement cannot be reached, the Board will issue a Notice of Charges and Allegations and the case will be scheduled for a formal public hearing. The Board will hold a public hearing no less than 30 days from the date of the service of notice on the licensee. The licensee may personally or through counsel appear and cross examine witnesses, present evidence in defense, assert objections and make arguments. The North Carolina Rules of Evidence generally apply to contested disciplinary hearings. Many physicians or other licensees decide to retain a firm or attorney to represent them at the formal stage, if they have not done so already.
A pre-hearing conference will usually be held not less than seven days before the hearing date. The purpose of the conference is to simplify the issues, obtain stipulations, consider the proposed witnesses for each party, identify and exchange documentary evidence intended to be introduced at the hearing, and consider such other matters that may be necessary or advisable for the efficient and expeditious conduct of the hearing. All agreements, stipulations, amendments, or other matters resulting from the pre-hearing conference must be in writing, signed by the presiding officer, the licensee or the licensee’s counsel and Board counsel, and introduced into the record at the beginning of the disciplinary hearing.
Disciplinary hearings generally are conducted before a majority of Board members and are held at the Board’s office. Hearings conducted by the Medical Board generally are open to the public but portions may be closed to protect the identity of patients. The Medical Board President or his or her designee will preside at the hearing. The Medical Board retains an independent legal counsel to provide advice to the presiding officer and other board members participating at the hearing. The quorum of the Medical Board will hear all evidence, make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and issue an order reflecting the decision of the majority of the quorum of the Board.
The Board may issue an Order dismissing the matter or it may determine there has been a violation and impose discipline. An Order issued by the Board may be appealed to Superior Court. Generally, it is much more difficult for a licensee to prevail once the matter reaches the court system on an appeal, even if he or she retains legal counsel at that point.