What to Expect 
Public Assistance Hearings


The Hearing Process

What is an exhibit?

Exhibits are documents you want the judge to read before making a decision. It is important to give all the exhibits to the judge before the hearing. If you want additional exhibits to be considered, mention this to the judge.

Each party may object to the other parties’ exhibits. An example of an objection is that the exhibits do not relate to the case. You cannot object to an exhibit just because you disagree with what it says. You can tell the judge why you disagree when it is your turn to give testimony. The judge decides whether exhibits will be considered. 

What is a witness?

You are allowed to have witnesses. A witness is someone who will give testimony to support your case. You need to make sure they are available at the time of the hearing. DSHS may also have witnesses. 

What is testimony?

Testimony is a statement given under oath. An oath means that the speaker promises to tell the truth. This is the part of the hearing where each person gets to explain their side of the case. The judge may stop or limit testimony if it is unnecessary.

Do not interrupt another person during their time to speak. The judge will allow you a chance to respond to the other person’s statements.

What is cross-examination?

When a person is done giving their testimony, the other party may ask them questions. This is called cross-examination. You may only ask questions. You may not comment on their testimony or make statements. If you disagree with what the person said, you may ask the judge to let you testify again. 

What are closing statements?

At the end of the hearing, the parties may give closing statements. A closing statement is your chance to summarize the facts and ask the judge to decide in your favor. This is not the time to give additional testimony. 

What if I have additional documents?

In most cases, the judge will not look at any new exhibits or testimony after the hearing ends. 

What happens if I miss my hearing?

If you miss your hearing, the judge will send out an Order of Dismissal. If you still want your hearing, you must send OAH a written explanation of why you missed your hearing. 

You have a limited time to do this. Please look at your Order of Dismissal for instructions. 

A time will be scheduled for you to explain to the judge why you missed your hearing. The judge will decide whether you had a good reason. 

If you have any questions about the process, please call OAH at 360-407-2700 as soon as you realize the date was missed.