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Administrative Hearings Officer Under Fire

Oak Forest Administrative Hearings Officer John Weimer, who is on temporary medical leave, has been the focus of a number of complaints from residents about his demeanor during hearings. Oak Forest officials respond to those complaints.

Residents of Oak Forest who've received a parking ticket, red light violation, and other local ordinance violations might have met John Weimer, Oak Forest's Administrative Hearings Officer. Weimer, who is currently on medical leave, has been the at the center of a number of complaints from residents for allegedly being short-tempered, cursing during hearings and even yelling at residents.

However, Oak Forest Police Chief Greg Anderson said that complaints against a public hearings officer are nothing new. Anderson said that an administrative hearing is a 'quasi-judicial proceeding,' and that it works much like a regular courtroom, which some people aren't aware of.

He added that when Weimer, or any other administrative hearing officer, needs to take a stand, they do.

“They tend to run those things like a courtroom, because it is a quasi-judicial setting,” Anderson said. “Sometimes the hearing officers—and I'm aware of this elsewhere—sometimes the hearing officers have to put their foot down, sometimes, because sometimes people go too far.”

Anderson said that Weimer's leave has nothing to do with his demeanor during hearings and is strictly based on a medical leave. Ald. Chuck Toland said the number of complaints against Weimer, prior to the leave, were higher than previous hearing officers—a concern he voiced previously at a Oak Forest City Council meeting and reiterated to Patch.

“People are going to complain when they get tickets," Toland said. "It was just something that was said during court, there were complaints about the way he treated people."

While Weimer is on medical leave Nicholas Valadez was appointed as the temporary administrative hearings officer at the Sept. 21 city council meeting.

In his own defense, Weimer said he flatly denies ever uttering a curse word during a hearing, although he does admit to raising his voice from time to time.

“I've never, ever, ever cursed at anybody during a hearing,” he said. “I'm not into that.”

Weimer said that his record speaks for itself, stating that since he began his career as a hearings officer in 1998, 'you could count on one hand, maybe two, the number of appeals I've had.' He added that before every hearing he explains the nature of the hearing, what he expects from residents who are there and how the hearings will proceed.

“One of the first things I say is that respected and courtesy is a two way street, and people will get what they give me,” he said. “This is a quasi-judicial proceeding. I'm not up there to entertain people, I'm there to do my job.”

He also said that because of his job and the rulings he makes, some people are going to complain no matter what.

“I find people guilty, and I fine people money,” he said. “Often, they're not happy with that. … Some people will always be unhappy with that.”

Weimer added that he was unsure of when he would return to work, although he was seeing several doctors about a possible return in the coming days. Anderson said that he expects Weimer to return shortly, although he wasn't sure when exactly.

“It could be much shorter than longer, I don't know until I get clearance for him to come back,” Anderson said. “I can't speculate on when the time that will be, but I do expect it to be of a very short duration.”

Weimer replaced former hearings officer David Baitman, who died of apparent suicide in Aug. 2012, before facing charges of the kidnap and sexual assault of a woman from June 2012.

Hamish October 04, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Never ever had a problem with Mr. Baitman
Ruth Ensing October 04, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Why should we trust Anderson's judgment? He's too busy looking for another job to be much in touch with events in Oak Forest.
Roger October 04, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Not shocking. These are probably the same people who hate police officers because they are constantly getting tickets, fines, breaking the law, etc.
Patrick McCarthy October 06, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I was in front of Mr. Weimer once and found him to be very rude. It had nothing to due with my 20.00 fine. The day I was there he acted like he was better than everyone. He fined every single person in front of me. Maybe they deserved it, but I would not want him working for me. Poor people skills, but I guess his job is to get as much money for the city.
Elizabeth October 30, 2012 at 06:37 PM
this guy was totally rude - wouldn't even hear what anyone had to say. After his 20 minute lecture on the rules I should have left becuase everyone had already been proven guilty.
jimmy November 14, 2012 at 05:08 AM
It's frightening how much flack hearing officers get, I found this site really helpful and full of practical advice for my practice - http://www.hearing-officers.com/
Jeri Alexander McNeal February 13, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Jeri Alexander McNeal My daughter went before Weimer today, neighbor looking down from her apt. window accused my daughter of being in her car which were parked next to each other "Not True,".Police were called, lady changed statement several times, then she left, supposedly going to pick up kids. This was an ordinance ticket, fines go to Village of Oak Forest. Weimer did not allow my daughter to defend herself and the accuser was not in court (my understanding is accuser does not have to be present). Weimer did ask if she did what she was being accused of, my daughter told him "No and that the officer believed her." Weimer stated not very nicely, he was rude and dismissive, "that he didn't care what the officer said he had to go by what was on the report" and fined my daughter $200. An appeal would cost more than the ticket (540) this would be a hardship and I'm reaching out for help in this matter. This comment is based on principle (1) she didn't do this (2) accuser and officers should have been in court and (3) Weimer should have considered this offense and listened, anybody can make a judgement by what on a piece of paper; he is an Officer of Court and one would hope an educated man.

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