Fundamental Fairness and Due Process

An administrative agency should follow fair procedures and provide due process[i].  Due process demands a meaningful evidentiary review by the administrative agency[ii].  The discretion of an administrative agency is to be exercised in a manner not to defeat the ends of justice[iii].  A fair trial before an impartial administrative agency is a basic requirement of due process[iv].

The due process followed in an administrative proceeding depends upon the nature of the administrative agency’s actions[v].  In State ex rel. Ormet Corp. v. Industrial Com. of Ohio, 54 Ohio St. 3d 102, 107 (Ohio 1990), the court held that a practice which violates due process because of mere administrative inconvenience, is not excused.  However in Medeiros v. Hawaii County Planning Comm’n, 8 Haw. App. 183 (Haw. Ct. App. 1990), the court held that due process is not a fixed concept requiring a particular procedure in every situation.  In Medeiros the court observed that due process is a flexible concept and could be followed as per situation demands.

An administrative agency should follow principles of fundamental fairness[vi].  In State ex rel. White v. Parsons, 199 W. Va. 1 (W. Va. 1996), the court held that administrative agencies are limited by principles of fundamental fairness.  The court further held that “cardinal test of the presence or absence of due process of law in an administrative proceeding is the presence or absence of the rudiments of fair play long known to law.”

In Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (U.S. 1976), the court held that factors to be considered in determining whether administrative procedures provide due process are; the fairness and reliability of the existing procedures, and the probable value of additional procedural safeguards.

[i] Appeal of Morin, 140 N.H. 515 (N.H. 1995)

[ii] State ex rel. Cangemi v. Industrial Comm’n, 72 Ohio St. 3d 453 (Ohio 1995)

[iii] Appeal of Morin, 140 N.H. 515 (N.H. 1995)

[iv] Secretary, Agency of Natural Resources v. Upper Valley Reg’l Landfill Corp., 167 Vt. 228, 234 (Vt. 1997)

[v] State ex rel. Hoover v. Smith, 198 W. Va. 507, 514 (W. Va. 1997)

[vi] State, Dep’t of Environmental Protection v. Stavola, 103 N.J. 425, 436 (N.J. 1986)


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