Agencies as Judicial Bodies or Courts

State administrative agencies may perform functions of a judicial, quasi-judicial, or fact finding character.  However, state agencies are extrajudicial bodies and not courts.  State administrative agencies are not judges, judicial bodies, or officers[i].  The proceedings of agencies are not judicial and are without judicial effect.  In State ex rel. Rockwell v. State Bd. of Education, 213 Minn. 184 (Minn. 1942), the court held that quasi-judicial nature of an administrative board does not, at any stage of proceedings, lose its identity as an administrative body and become a court.  Similarly, the proceedings of a school board are quasi judicial nature and the regularity of the board’s action cannot be tested by strict legal rules prevailing in court proceedings[ii].

Although the administrative agencies perform some quasi-judicial duties, they do not have general judicial powers[iii].  In Hoover Motor Exp. Co. v. Railroad & Public Utilities Com., 195 Tenn. 593 (Tenn. 1953), the court observed that although railroad and public utilities commission is authorized to initiate and prosecute proceedings before it, the commission is not a court.  Similarly in Stratton v. Railroad Com. of California, 186 Cal. 119 (Cal. 1921), the court held that rail road commission of the State of California is not a judicial tribunal in the strict sense.  The Court observed that the commission is an administrative and legislative tribunal but not a court.  The court further held that the orders of the commission are not judgments and facts found by it are not res judicata.  In Michelson v. Industrial Com., 375 Ill. 462 (Ill. 1941), the court held that an industrial commission is not a court and has no inherent powers of a court.

However, in Kocontes v. McQuaid, 279 Neb. 335, 348 (Neb. 2010),the court held that a board, tribunal, or officer exercises a judicial function, if it decides a dispute of adjudicative fact or if a statute requires it to act in a judicial manner.  The court of appeals has jurisdiction to hear appeals from administrative decisions only when a statute specifically authorizes an appeal directly to the court of appeals[iv].

[i] State ex rel. Stenberg v. Murphy, 247 Neb. 358 (Neb. 1995)

[ii] State ex rel. Ging v. Board of Education, 213 Minn. 550, 564 (Minn. 1942)

[iii] Slansky v. Neb. State Patrol, 268 Neb. 360, 386 (Neb. 2004)

[iv] K.S.A. § 60-2101


Inside Agencies as Judicial Bodies or Courts