ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS AND APPEALS
What is an Administrative Hearing?
Disputes between private citizens/businesses and government agencies are resolved at administrative hearings. The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge.
Administrative hearings are less formal than a typical courtroom setting. The rules of evidence are more relaxed. For example, hearsay is generally admissible. However, the informal nature of an administrative hearing does not mean that you should take the hearing lightly. It is critical for you to make a complete record of your defenses in the event that you have to file an appeal.
What due process rights do I have?
According to the 5th amendment, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Based on this language, you are entitled to a fair hearing before being deprived of your life, liberty or property. But, unfortunately for those who find themselves involved in a regulatory enforcement action, the agency gets to make the rules, investigates the alleged violations, and then prosecutes the case, and decides the case.
The hearing officer/judge is selected by the agency. As a result, your due process rights are actually much more limited than if you were a defendant in a criminal or civil case.
What are my appeal rights?
You have the right to appeal an adverse agency decision. An appellate court will review the agency’s decision and determine if it is supported by “substantial evidence.” The agency decision can be overturned if it was arbitrary or capricious, or was beyond the power of the agency to make, or violated your constitutional rights.
The vast majority of agency decisions are never reviewed by the courts. The few decisions that are reviewed are usually won by the agency. Therefore, it is important to do everything possible to win your case at the administrative level.