The Board may itself hear an appeal of disciplinary action, but usually the Board designates an administrative law judge (ALJ or hearing officer) employed by SPO to preside over a disciplinary appeal hearing. The hearing officer provides an unbiased and neutral forum to hear and decide the employee’s appeal. The Hearing officer shall not participate in any adjudicatory proceeding if he or she cannot afford a fair and impartial hearing. The parties to an appeal may ask for the disqualification of a hearing officer by filing an affidavit of disqualification stating the particular grounds for disqualification. In order to ensure a fair hearing process is followed, no party may communicate with the hearing officer concerning the details of the case unless both parties are present.