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Burdens of Proof in Adjudicative Hearings

Pursuant to Administrative Procedure Act (5 USCS 556(d)) the proponent of a rule or order has the burden of proof.  The state administrative acts also state that the party asserting a particular fact has the burden of affirmatively proving that fact.  In Dir. v. Greenwich Collieries, 512 U.S. 267 (U.S. 1994), Supreme Court held that burden of proof is nowhere defined in the Administrative Procedure Act and the burden of proof means the burden of persuasion.  The proponent of an order is the party who brings forward a matter for litigation or action.

However, under some regulatory schemes, the burden of production may shift, such that one party has the burden of going forward with a prima facie case, and the opposite party must respond by presenting evidence to rebut the prima facie case.   Even then, the ultimate burden of persuasion always remains with the proponent.

An administrative agency to which rulemaking authority has been delegated has discretion to allocate the burden of proof in an administrative hearing if the underlying statute is silent on the issue, so long as the chosen allocation is consistent with the legislative scheme.[i]  The general standard of proof for administrative hearings is by a preponderance of evidence.

[i] Bunce v. Secretary of State, 239 Mich. App. 204 (Mich. Ct. App. 1999)

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