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Hearing Officers

According to the Administrative-Procedure Act, a formal agency hearing can be presided over by one or more members of the body comprising the agency, one or more administrative law judges, or boards or other employees specially designated under regulatory statutes.  The decision making authority does not have to hear or read all the evidence before reaching a decision.  For rendering a decision over an administrative issue, the decision making officer needs to familiarize with the evidence sufficient to assure that all statutory criteria have been satisfied and retains the ultimate authority to render the decision.  The due process for a state administrative hearing to be conducted by an agency employee is not denied if review of the hearing officer’s decision will be conducted by the agency head.

The Model State Administrative Procedure Act of 1981 provides that an agency may request for an administrative law judge from a state office specially established for the purpose of employing, training, and setting standards for other administrative law judges.  The administrative law judges should be admitted to practice law in the state.  Federal agencies have to appoint the required number of administrative law judges necessary for adjudicative proceedings, and cases have to be assigned in rotation.  Administrative Law Judges should refrain from performing any obligation inconsistent with their official duties and responsibilities.  Any person having a pecuniary or other interest in an administrative proceeding should abstain from adjudicating that dispute.

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