What is an Administrative Hearing?

Disputes between agencies and private citizens or businesses are resolved at administrative hearings. An administrative law judge conducts the hearing and prepares the order. There are two types of orders:  final orders and proposed orders or recommendations.

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. The appellate court will have no ability to overturn an unfavorable decision if your side of the story is developed and preserved in the record.

What are my due process rights?

Your right to due process comes from the 5th amendment which provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. You have a right to two types of due process. The first is substantive due process which limits what government can specifically regulate. The second is procedural due process which insures that you receive a fair hearing before being deprived of your life, liberty or property.

Unfortunately for those who find themselves the subject of a regulatory enforcement action, the agency gets to make the rules, investigate the alleged violations, prosecute the case, and decide the case. The hearing itself is conducted by a hearing officer selected by the agency. As a result, your due process rights are 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. The appellate court will review the agency’s decision to see 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 because the courts give deference to the agency decision. Therefore, it is important to do everything possible to win your case at the administrative level.

To discuss how our attorneys can help you with your unique administrative law matter, contact us online or call 601-957-3101.