A. An individual who has served as investigator, prosecutor, or advocate at any stage in a contested case or who is subject to the authority, direction, or discretion of an individual who has served as investigator, prosecutor, or advocate at any stage in a contested case may not serve as the presiding officer or hearing officer in the same case. An agency head who has participated in a determination of probable cause or other preliminary determination in an adjudication may serve as the presiding officer in the adjudication unless a party demonstrates grounds for disqualification under subsection B.
B. A presiding officer or hearing officer is subject to disqualification for any factor that would cause a reasonable person to question the impartiality of the presiding officer or hearing officer, which may include bias, prejudice, financial interest, or ex parte communications; however, the fact that a hearing officer is employed by an agency as a hearing officer, without more, is not grounds for disqualification. The presiding officer or hearing officer, after making a reasonable inquiry, shall disclose to the parties all known facts related to grounds for disqualification that are material to the impartiality of the presiding officer or hearing officer in the proceeding. The presiding officer or hearing officer may self-disqualify and withdraw from any case for reasons listed in this subsection.
C. A party may petition for the disqualification of the presiding officer or hearing officer promptly after notice that the person will preside or, if later, promptly on discovering facts establishing a ground for disqualification. The petition must state with particularity the ground on which it is claimed that a fair and impartial hearing cannot be accorded or the applicable rules of ethics that require disqualification. The petition may be denied if the party fails to promptly request disqualification after discovering a ground for disqualification.
D. A presiding officer not appointed pursuant to the provisions of § 2.2-4024, whose disqualification is requested shall decide whether to grant the petition and state in a record the facts and reasons for the decision. The decision to deny disqualification by a hearing officer appointed pursuant to § 2.2-4024 shall be reviewable according to the procedure set forth in subsection C of § 2.2-4024. In all other circumstances, the presiding officer’s or hearing officer’s decision to deny disqualification is subject to judicial review in accordance with this chapter, but is not otherwise subject to interlocutory review.
2015, c. 636.