Scheduling of Adjudicative Hearings

An administrative law judge is empowered to set the time and place of a hearing[i]. The administrative law judge shall take into account the convenience and necessity of the parties or their representatives while determining the time and place of hearing[ii].
An administrative agency is vested with inherent power and broad discretion in determining whether to grant a continuance of a hearing, and a motion for continuance should be granted whenever justice so requires[iii]. 

“Factors relevant to determining whether an agency abused its discretion in denying a request for a continuance includes the reasons for the request, the prejudice that would result from its denial, the parties’ diligence in seeking relief, any lack of good faith, and any prejudice to the opposing party”[iv].  An agency’s denial of a motion for a continuance to permit the appearance of newly retained counsel if the movant expresses reservations about the proceeding without counsel due to language difficulties amounts to an abuse of discretion.  A request for continuance must be sought for a reasonable time and notice of a rescheduled hearing following a continuance is not mandatory except where it may be required to prevent hardship or unfair surprise.  If there is change of subject matter for the later hearing, that constitutes a valid reason for notice[v].

Administrative agency has the discretion to consolidate cases for hearing.  Courts will review the agency decision making only on an abuse of discretion standard.  An administrative agency’s findings of fact are held to be prima facie true and correct on review.[vi] Thus, the person who challenges and agency order carries a heavy burden of overcoming the presumption of validity of agency action by showing unfairness in the procedure employed[vii].

[i] 5 U.S.C.A. § 554(b)(1); Model State Administrative Procedure Act (1981) § 4-206

[ii] 5 U.S.C.A. § 554(b)

[iii] Hainsey v. Commonwealth Pa. Liquor Control Bd., 529 Pa. 286 (Pa. 1992)

[iv] Murphy v. A. A. Beiro Constr. Co., 679 A.2d 1039 (D.C. 1996)

[v] Chang v. Planning Comm’n, 64 Haw. 431 (Haw. 1982)

[vi] Daniels v. Police Bd. of City of Chicago, 338 Ill. App. 3d 851

[vii] State ex rel. Churchill Truck Lines, Inc. v. Public Service Com’n of State of Mo., 734 S.W.2d 586 (Mo. Ct. App. W.D. 1987)


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