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Summary Adjudication

A summary judgment is a determination made by a court without a full trial.  When a party to a proceeding files a motion for summary judgment challenging a state administrative ruling, the motion may be described as a motion for summary adjudication.[i] Summary adjudication is made based upon a motion by one of the parties stating that the matter need not be tried.  It is appropriate when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[ii]

The Federal Administrative Procedure Act provides that subject to the rules and powers of agency, presiding officer at hearings may regulate the course of the hearing.[iii] In Paige v. Cisneros, 91 F.3d 40, 44 (7th Cir. Ill. 1996), the court held that agencies no less than courts can grant summary judgment.

Under the Model State Administrative Procedure Act, an agency may use summary adjudicative proceedings if:

  • the use of those proceedings in the circumstances does not violate any provision of law,
  • the protection of the public interest does not require the agency to give notice and an opportunity to participate to persons other than the parties, and
  • the matter is entirely within one or more of the following categories:
  1. a monetary amount of not more than a specified amount,
  2. a reprimand, warning, disciplinary report, or other purely verbal sanction without continuing impact against a prisoner, student, public employee, or licensee,
  3. the denial of an application after the applicant has abandoned the application,
  4. the denial of an application for admission to an educational institution or for employment by an agency,
  5. the denial, in whole or in part, of an application if the applicant has an opportunity for administrative review in accordance with the Act,
  6. a matter that is resolved on the sole basis of inspections, examinations, or tests,
  7. the acquisition, leasing, or disposal of property or the procurement of goods or services by contract, and
  8. any matter having only trivial potential impact upon the affected parties

[i] Cone v. Randolph County Schs. Bd. of Educ., 657 F. Supp. 2d 667 (M.D.N.C. 2009)

[ii] Tungjunyatham v. Johanns, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105937 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 12, 2009)

[iii] 5 USCS § 556

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