The Hearing Examiner's Office is independent of oversight by the County Attorney or the County Manager to ensure that its decisions and recommendations are based on the ordinances and the record from the public hearings.
Florida land use public hearings are of two types—quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial. "Quasi" means "like," so "quasi-legislative" means legislative like and "quasi-judicial" means judicial or court like. Most Florida hearings on land use applications are quasi-judicial in nature. Hearings for comprehensive plan amendments and large-scale rezonings are two exceptions.
In a quasi-judicial hearing, all witnesses testify under oath and the evidence they present must be based on facts they know personally, or have enough expertise on which to give an opinion. Only the evidence that is part of the record before the Hearing Examiner can be considered in the recommendations and decisions and the evidence is measured against the adopted criteria. The rules on the evidence are not as strict as in court, however, and the hearings are less formal.
Quasi-judicial processes are like court hearings in the presentation of the evidence to be considered. In a quasi-judicial process, the decision-maker applies existing law to the record evidence to determine the result. This is in contrast to decisions made in a legislative process where the decision-maker is making new policy or laws.