The following policies and procedures shall control complaints, denied licenses, and hearings within the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Board of Registration for Foresters (BORF)
- The BORF will receive only written complaints against a Registered Forester. All Complaints must be signed and notarized.
- The Board will decide if there is sufficient evidence based on the affidavits submitted by the Complainant to constitute a specific violation of the Laws or Board Regulations, which govern the BORF.
- Where it is deemed there is sufficient evidence of a violation of the Laws or Board Regulations, the Registered Forester will be notified of such charges and definite time and place will be set for a hearing with proper notice being given to all parties.
- Procedures will be designed to give the accused the right to be heard in a fair and impartial hearing.
- The Chairman or Senior Board Member present will be the presiding officer and will rule on all objections and motions, subject to the Board’s approval.
- The Board is not bound by strict rules of evidence and shall admit all relevant and materials evidence, except evidence that is unduly repetitious.
- All hearings are open to the public; however, members of the public may not participate nor be present for Executive Sessions.
- The Chairman will subpoena all witnesses for the Board or the Respondent when requested.
- The Complainant and Respondent have the right to appear either personally, by Counsel, or both, to produce witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and have subpoenas issued by the Board.
- If either party fails to appear at the hearing, such party shall be deemed to have had the right to an oral hearing in proceeding in absence of good cause being shown.
- All Board decisions will be made in Executive Session.
- A copy of this Board Policy and Procedures will be supplied to the Complainant and Respondent along with the notification of the hearing.
- The decision of the Board to suspend or revoke the license of the Registered Forester or to deny the issuance of a license shall be based on sustentative evidence.
- Any applicant denied a license for any reason shall at the applicants request be given a hearing before the Board with such hearing being conducted at a regular Board meeting.
- Meeting called to order by Chairman.
- Chairman request that the Respondent/counsel be called and that a copy of the letter of notification containing charges be distributed to Board Members present.
- The Respondent is then asked to state name, address and registration number. He is also informed at this time that the hearing is being recorded.
- If Respondent is represented by Counsel, his name and address is entered into the record at this time.
- The Chairman asks that the charges be read.
- The charges and other evidence presented throughout the hearing are reviewed by the Board and entered into the record.
- Before going into the merits of the cause, evidence should be placed into the record showing Respondent was properly notified of the charges.
- The Respondent is than asked to respond to the charges.
- Board Witness:
The Board Counsel or Board may have witness called for the Board and he or the Board shall conduct the direct examination of the witness.
- At the conclusion of the examination, the Respondent or Respondent Counsel may cross-examine the witness.
- At the conclusion of the cross-examination, the Board Members may question the witness.
- At the conclusion of the witness’ testimony, the witness will be excused.
- Subject to recall by the Board, the witness may not leave the building.
- Not subject to recall, the witness may leave.
- Respondent Witness:
- The Respondent may call his witness(es) after the Board has rested its case. The Respondent or his Counsel will conduct the direct examination.
- Where Board Counsel is present, the Board Members may question the witness at the conclusion of direct examination by the Board Counsel.
- The witness will be excused as in 9-c. above.
- The Board may then call rebuttal witnesses following the procedure outlines in 9 above.
- The Respondent/Counsel may make closing arguments if desired.
- After all response has been presented by both sides, the Respondent and his representatives are dismissed and the Board goes into Executive Session to consider all evidence presented and make a final decision or ruling.
- The Board shall, first make a finding of fact upon each charge. They shall determine, based upon evidence submitted, whether or not they find the Respondent did or did not commit each act as charged.
- The Chairman of the Board may make recommendations to the Board as to what penalty, if any, should be adjudged in the case.
- The Board should then determine what disciplinary actions should be taken in the matter.
- Following the Executive Session, the Respondent may or may not be informed of the Board’s decisions on the day of the hearing. The decision is always reduced to writing in the form of a Board Action. A certified copy of the Board Action will be forwarded to the Respondent. Notification shall include the findings of fact in addition to the penalty adjudged by the Board.
Procedures for Handling Complaints
The Mississippi Board of Registration for Foresters shall use the following procedures to handle complaints regarding the practice of forestry without a license or unethical/unprofessional conduct against a Register Forester.
- Complaints must be submitted in writing on a Board’s approved complaint form and signed by the complaining party in order for the Board to take action on the allegations contained in said complaint.
- When a properly submitted complaint is received at the Board’s Starkville office, the date of its receipt shall be noted on the Complaint and placed in a file. A letter shall be sent to the Complaining party acknowledging receipt of the complaint. A copy of the complaint shall be sent to the Chairman of the Complaint Committee (COCC) and the Chairman of the Board. A decision will be made as to the validity of the complaint and whether or not to proceed.
- If the COCC and the chairman of the Board both agree that no action should be taken on the complaint, said decision shall be noted in the file, and reasonable effort shall be made to notify the complaining party. The complaining party may resubmit the complaint with additional information for reconsideration. Any resubmitted complaint shall be handled in the same manner as the first complaint.
- If the COCC or the Chairman of the Board thinks that action should be taken on the complaint, copies of the Complaint Form shall be mailed to the Board members. The COCC shall make reasonable effort to poll each Board member as to whether to proceed further. If the number of members contacted constitutes a quorum and a majority of those favor further action, then the Board shall proceed by notifying the alleged offender in writing of the allegations and of an opportunity to appear before the Board and respond to the allegations at least ten (10) days prior to said meeting of the Board.
- At the conclusion of said meeting of the Board, the Board shall determine what, if any, action is needed and may conduct additional investigation. The Board may dismiss the complaint or advise the alleged offender in writing to cease practicing forestry without a license and/or recommend the steps necessary to achieve compliance with the law.
- If the Board receives a subsequent complaint that the offender is not complying with the Board’s decision or if the Board has reason to believe that the offender is not or will not comply, the Board may immediately turn the case over to the appropriate authorities for possible prosecution.
- Complaints against a Registered Forester for any reason should be handled in the same manner.