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Certiorari – Administrative Decision-Making Based Wholly on Uncorroborated Hearsay Insufficient

Michelle Williams v. Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, 2010 WI App 14

Issue/Holding:

¶13      The circuit court reversed the Housing Authority’s denial of rent assistance because it concluded that, under Gehin v. Wisconsin Group Insurance Board,2005 WI 16, 278 Wis. 2d 111, 692 N.W.2d 572, the Housing Authority could not base its decision solely on uncorroborated hearsay evidence (the officer’s written notes recalling the witness’s statement of what Williams said), and therefore, the Housing Authority lacked sufficient evidence on which to base its denial. We agree.¶14      Uncorroborated hearsay evidence, even if admissible, does not by itself constitute substantial evidence. Id.,278 Wis. 2d 111, ¶8 (citing Folding Furniture Works, Inc. v. Wisconsin LRB,232 Wis. 170, 189, 285 N.W. 851 (1939)). Adherence to this rule is premised on hearsay’s innate lack of reliability. See id.,¶58. “Substantial evidence has been defined … as ‘that quantity and quality of evidence which a reasonable [person] could accept as adequate to support a conclusion.’” Id., ¶48.  Substantial evidence must include something “more than ‘a mere scintilla’ of evidence and more than ‘conjecture and speculation.’” Id. (citations omitted).

Hearsay, to be sure, is admissible at an administrative proceeding, the point being that ultimately more is required, ¶¶15-24.

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