Skype Video Hearing Guide - State Civil Service Commission

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skypevideohearingguideJanuary 13, 2021

TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction2Video Hearing Checklist3Can My Hearing Be Held Via Video?3My Hearing is Scheduled, What Next?4When You Receive an Invite or Notice of Public Video Hearing5Before the Hearing6Connecting to the Hearing8During the Hearing8Following the Hearing10Skype Video Hearing Technical Guide11 How to Join a Video Hearing via SkypeHow to Join a Video Hearing via Skype by Cell PhoneHow to Join a Video Hearing via Skype by Personal ComputerHow to Share Documents via SkypeHow to Conduct a Sidebar ConversationAttachment A (Example of Pre-marked Exhibits)1213161919201January 13, 2021

INTRODUCTIONEffective March 6, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf signed the coronavirus (COVID-19)Emergency Disaster Declaration. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a historic andunprecedented event; the like of which has not been experienced by the Commonwealthof Pennsylvania and nation since the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.COVID-19 has introduced a significant amount of change into our personal, professional,and business lives. The pandemic necessitated the introduction of statewide health,safety, and wellness measures to mitigate the spread of the disease.In response to Governor Wolf’s declaration and as a means of mitigating the spread ofthe disease, the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) converted to a modifiedoffice schedule. Since March, Commission staff has continued to provide quality agencyservices as well as being responsive to client agencies at the state and local governmentlevels, employees, and the public. However, due to the communicable nature of thedisease, the Commission has begun conducting video based civil service hearings viaSkype, an online conference/meeting software tool. The Commission’s “Skype VideoHearing Guide” provides detailed information on how video-based hearings will bescheduled and conducted. Please carefully read the Guide for additional information.While the Commission continues to institute operational changes in response to theCOVID-19 pandemic, we thank you for your patience, understanding, and continuedsupport during this unprecedented period. The Commission remains committed to itsstatutory mission by holding fair and objective appeal hearings; and rendering unbiaseddecisions involving disputed personnel actions.Questions or comments related to the contents of this Guide should be sent to theCommission’s Legal Services Office at [email protected] 13, 2021

VIDEO HEARING CHECKLISTIf you answer NO to any of the following questions, Skype is not a workable format foryour video hearing.Do you have a personal email account? (i.e., yahoo, Gmail, AOL, etc.)Do you have Wi-Fi/Internet or data service?Do you have a laptop, personal computer, or other device with audio/camera/videofunctionality?Do you have a quiet space/private location available to participate in a CommissionVideo Hearing?If you are a Commonwealth employee, do you have a non-Skype telephonenumber?CAN MY HEARING BE HELD VIA SKYPE?Skype is an application that can be downloaded and used. Generally, the followingconditions must be met for a video hearing to be conducted via Skype: All parties and witnesses must have devices capable of running Skype.Participants are not required to use Commonwealth equipment.All parties and witnesses must have video and audio capabilities forcommunicating via Skype. Parties may propose telephone testimony if awitness cannot get access to a device with video and audio functions. Sucha request would need to be considered by the opposing party and theCommission before a decision can be made.All parties and witnesses must participate in a pre-hearing test of technologyand submit planned exhibits in advance.Please note, even if the above conditions are met, there may be other technicallimitations or circumstances which could prevent the hearing from being conductedvia Skype. Cases will be evaluated to determine if Skype is a workable format forthe hearing.3January 13, 2021

MY HEARING IS SCHEDULED, WHAT NEXT?Prior to the date of the scheduled civil service hearing, the Commission will send an emailinvite notice to appellant, counsel for appellant (if retained) and counsel for the appointingauthority, which will contain a link to join the video hearing via Skype. All parties andwitnesses must be logged on and connected to the meeting at least fifteen minutes priorto the official start time of the appeal hearing. During this period, communications,connectivity, and technical issues will be tested and verified.Be prepared: Parties must have sufficient battery life for personal devices for the entire hearing.Parties must have sufficient data and/or Wi-Fi access.Parties must be in a quiet area with minimal background noise. To minimizebackground noise, please mute your telephone and place all devices on silent.Parties must provide the Commission with a telephone number at which they canbe reached. The Commission must be able to reach you on the day of the hearingat the telephone number you provide.Exhibits: All exhibits should be mailed and/or emailed as directed in the Commission Noticeof Public Video Hearing.All exhibits shall conform to the instructions set forth in the section of this Guidetitled, “When you Receive an Invite and Notice for Video Hearing.”Ensure exhibits are legible (both in printed form and when presented on typicalelectronic devices), pre-marked, and numbered with each page numbered withineach exhibit.o The appointing authority’s exhibits should be pre-marked AA-1,AA-2, et seq.o The appellant’s exhibits should be pre-marked AP-1, AP-2, et seq.o The Office of Administration’s exhibits should be pre-marked OA-1,OA-2, et seq.o Examples of pre-marked exhibits are included as Attachment A. Exhibits may be presented out of order.If presenting the exhibit through screen share, have all other applications closedbefore sharing screen of only the document that you want to share.Parties must provide copies of their exhibits to witnesses if that party will not beusing the screen share function at the hearing.4January 13, 2021

Witness(es):If you plan on calling a witness(es): You must provide the Commission with a telephone number at which thewitness(es) can be reached. If the witness is a Commonwealth employee,you must provide a non-Skype telephone number for the witness. TheCommission must be able to reach the witness(es) on the day of thehearing at the telephone number you provide.Witnesses are required to participate in a pre-hearing test of technology to ensurethey will be able to connect on the day of the hearing.Witnesses must have sufficient battery life for personal devices and data for theentire hearing.Witnesses must be in a quiet area with minimal background noise.Remind witnesses when they have finished testifying, they may be required to leave thevideo hearing and should not talk to anyone about the testimony presented until after theconclusion of the hearing.WHEN YOU RECEIVE AN INVITE AND NOTICE FOR THE VIDEO HEARING1) You will receive two notices regarding the video hearing: an invite for the videohearing and a Notice of Public Video Hearing. The invite for the video hearing willbe sent to the email address you have provided. The Notice of Public VideoHearing will be sent to you by mail.2) Read the invite for the video hearing carefully. Add the meeting link and anydeadlines to your personal calendar.3) Read the Notice of Public Video Hearing carefully. Carefully review the Noticeof Hearing and any addendums for additional requirements, including pre-hearingmeetings and timeframes for exhibits. Specifically, review how exhibits are to beprovided 5 business days PRIOR to the video hearing. Do not count weekendsor holidays when determining the due date. If you have any questions, thoseshould be clarified by the Notice of Public Video Hearing.4) Dealing with exhibits in a video proceeding can be cumbersome, so think carefullyabout the size, length and need for each exhibit. Each exhibit should be premarked and each page within each exhibit should be numbered. The appointing authority’s exhibits should be pre-marked AA-1,AA-2, et seq.The appellant’s exhibits should be pre-marked AP-1, AP-2, et seq.5January 13, 2021

The Office of Administration’s exhibits should be pre-marked OA-1,OA-2, et. seq.See examples in Attachment A.5) A Technology Conference meeting will be conducted via video with the parties andwitnesses prior to the actual hearing to address technical issues, if any. Theparties are required to forward the invite to their witnesses. The Commission willNOT send the invite for the technology conference to witnesses.BEFORE THE HEARING1) Familiarize yourself with different features commonly used for video hearings viaSkype, such as sharing documents. Practice these features with friends, family,or clients, if possible. Instructions for some of the features you may need for avideo hearing are in the Skype Video Hearing Technical Guide.2) Parties, witnesses, and participants should have a copy of the Skype VideoHearing Technical Guide available for reference during the hearing. It is theresponsibility of the parties to provide the Skype Video Hearing Technical Guideto their witnesses.3) The Commission will be sending invites only to the parties and/or their attorneys.It will be each party’s responsibility to forward the invite for the video hearingand provide contact information for the witnesses to the Commission.4) The parties must provide a valid phone number for all parties, witnesses, and otherparticipants no later than 5 business days before the hearing. Do not countweekends or holidays when determining the due date. These phone numbers maybe used when connecting sequestered witnesses and for troubleshootingpurposes. This information is sent only to the Commission and will keptconfidential.5) Exhibits must be submitted to the Commission no later than 5 business daysbefore the hearing. Do not count weekends or holidays when determining the duedate.a. Prepare your exhibits with a cover email. Unless you receive separateinstructions from the Commission, the body of the email should containa descriptive list of exhibits, identifying the exhibit number andproviding a brief description of the exhibit. For example, start with“Exhibit AP-1 – Text messages regarding Thanksgiving vacation.”6January 13, 2021

b. Along with the cover email, send your exhibits via email to all counsel,unrepresented appellants, and the Commission in accordance with theinstructions in your Notice of Public Video Hearing. Requestconfirmation that the documents were received.c. Each exhibit shall be a separate attachment labeled with the exhibitnumber. The pages of the attached exhibits shall be numbered, andthe exhibits shall be pre-marked as follows: The appointing authority’s exhibits should be pre-marked AA-1,AA-2, et seq.The appellant’s exhibits should be pre-marked AP-1, AP-2, etseq.The Office of Administration’s exhibits should be pre-marked OA1, OA-2, et seq.See examples in Attachment A.d. No one should alter exhibits once the email is sent without approval ofthe Commission. Any documents not available for public inspectionmay be sent as an encrypted file, if needed.6) The parties must submit a witness list 3 business days prior to the hearing. Donot count weekends or holidays when determining the due date.7) Test your broadcast location as it relates to sound and lighting. Try to avoid havinga bright light behind or beside you as you may appear backlit with glare. Also, tryto sit relatively close to the camera and position your camera so your face andshoulders take up most of the screen. If preferred, install a virtual backgroundusing a professional image.8) Avoid having others in the room with you and advise your witnesses to do thesame. Parties, witnesses, and participants should disclose if others are in theroom and those individuals may be asked to leave during testimony.9) It is helpful if each party and witness has a separate computer device, but werecognize there may be a need to share devices. The appellant and attorneysmust always be visible on screen unless otherwise instructed by the CommissionHearing Officer.10) It is best to use a headset to hear the proceedings and ensure the Commissioncan hear you through a microphone. If you do not have a headset, you will needto ensure you are in a quiet location to avoid excess background noise.7January 13, 2021

11) You will be required to use the video feature. Make sure your witnessesunderstand they will need to have access to a video feed.CONNECTING TO THE HEARING1) The Commission is currently using Skype to conduct video hearings. Skype worksbest when few applications are running on your computer or other devices. Youmay want to close as many applications as possible prior to accessing Skype.2) Open the Skype email invite. Click the link or paste it into your regular browser. Ifyou are a Commonwealth employee, do not access via the Commonwealth’sVirtual Private Network (VPN) portal.3) Select audio and camera on your device. Video and audio are required, andappropriate attire must be worn. Please refer to the Skype Video HearingTechnical Guide for additional information.4) The first and last name of all parties, witnesses and participants must be visibleupon joining the video hearing. Instructions for adding your name can be found inthe Skype Video Hearing Technical Guide. Having the person’s name on thescreen is very helpful for court reporters.5) Wait your turn to speak and stay on mute on all devices unless you are speaking.6) Additional instructions for connecting to Skype through various electronic devicescan be found in the Skype Video Hearing Technical Guide.If you are disconnected during the hearing, you may rejoin using your originalinvite. If you are unable to rejoin, please contact the Commission’s Legal ServicesOffice at (717) 783-2924.DURING T