Good Example Of Research Paper On Legal Memorandum On Administrative Law
Re: Taking on Administrative Law Cases
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) was established by the North Carolina Legislature in 1985 with the passage of the Administrative Procedure Act (OAH, n.d.). The purpose of creating the OAH was to provide the citizens of the state with the ability to impartially resolve disputes with state agencies through the creation a team of administrative law judges that were separate and independent of the government agencies that had traditionally employed them. The hope was in that in creating the OAH, a more unbiased administrative law process could be achieved with decreased opportunity for real or perceived conflicts of interest between administrative law judges and the agencies they “investigate and prefer charges against regulated parties” (OAH, n.d.).
Under the APA, the OAH is given both exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction over administrative law cases. Exclusive jurisdiction refers to those case or controversies of specific agencies that may only be resolved before and administrative law judge. For example, the OAH has exclusive jurisdiction over cases against the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABCB). This means that person wanting to contest an ABCB action must bring it through the OAH rather than before the ABCB review board. Additionally, an OAH judge’s decision must be followed by the ABCB. The majority of state agency disputes are resolved under the OAH’s exclusive jurisdiction (APA, 2014). Concurrent jurisdiction, on the other hand, refers those cases that can be resolved either through an agency run proceeding or, alternatively, before an administrative law judge assigned by the OAH to hear the case. For instance, the Department of Revenue has its own administrative hearing officers that generally hear, investigate and rule on citizen petitions made to them directly. However, they may also request that the OAH assign an administrative law judge to hear a case. In this circumstance, however, the OAH administrative law judge sits as a representative of the agency rather than as OAH staff. Accordingly, under concurrent jurisdiction the agency and the OAH share responsibilities in resolving the case. Furthermore, concurrent jurisdiction is limited to a certain number of state agencies such as the Department of Correction, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Board and the Utilities Commission.
Under the APA, four types of cases may be heard before an OAH administrative law judge namely, Medicaid cases, tax cases, special education cases and general contested cases (APA, 2014). Medicaid cases refer to any cases in which a person contests a denial or modification of their Medicaid services. Tax cases refer to any case in which a person or organization disputes as tax matter. Special education cases refer to those cases that involve the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) (APA, 2014). Lastly, general contested cases refers to all cases not included in the three categories above in which a citizen feels a state agency’s actions violated his rights or was otherwise illegal.
All cases that are heard under the OAH’s exclusive jurisdiction begin the same way, namely with a petition. Under the law, any citizen who feels that the actions of a state agency have aggrieved them may file a petition with the OAH. Generally, a fee is required to file a petition; however, if a petitioner is indigent, they may apply for a waiver of the filing fee prior to filing the petition. The original and a copy must be filed with the OAH for a petition to be valid. Moreover, a copy of the petition must also be filed with the opposing agency. If the petition is properly filed, the OAH will assign the case to an administrative law judge who will then notify all parties to the case. Under North Carolina law, before the administrative law judge will hear the case, all parties are required to attend a “mediated settlement conference” (APA, 2014). The purpose of the conference is to allow both sides the chance to resolve the case before a contested hearing. If a resolution cannot be achieved, the case will go to the administrative law judge who will set a date for a contested hearing.
At the contested hearing both sides will be able to argue their case. This includes witness testimony, cross-examination, and the submission of any necessary documents, records or evidence. Once both parties have finished their arguments, the administrative law judge will issue a written decision that contains “findings of fact and conclusions of law” is sent to both parties (OAH, n.d.). Each party will then have the chance to file exceptions to the judge’s decision; moreover, a citizen may also present further written arguments to the agency on behalf of its case. Once all changes, if any, are made to the judge’s decision, the agency must make a final decision on what it will do. While the agency has a chance to review the judge’s decision before making a final decision; as mention, it must incorporate the administrative law judge’s recommendation in its decision unless the decision is without merit. Once a final decision by the agency is made, the petitioner may appeal the decision to a state court for judicial review.
General Statutes of North Carolina, Chapter 150B – The Administrative Procedure Act - APA. (2014). Retrieved on January 3, 2015, from http://www.ncoah.com/150b.pdf
Office of Administrative Hearings – OAH. (n.d.). Practice Before the Office of Administrative Hearings: An Overview. Retrieved on January 3, 2015, from http://www.ncleg.net/documentsites/committees/JLAPOC/Committee%20Meetings/11-5-13/OAH%20Overview.pdf