What is a hearing?
A proceeding that “investigates, declares,
and enforces liabilities as they stand on
present or past facts, and under laws
supposed to already exist.”
Similar to civil or criminal court trials
Procedures are formulated in agency
statues and administrative procedure acts
When is a hearing needed?
Usually held after all other processes
offered by the agency to reach an
agreement have been exhausted
Claimant feels their has been a violation of
Louisiana Assoc. of Independent
Producers and Royalty Owners v.
FERC ( 1992)
Group of entities concerned about how
FERC conducted its business dealings,
including its methods of due process and
Court upheld agency’s discretionary power
to decide how it would conduct hearings.
Determination of Need
An agency has to determine there is a valid
need for a hearing.
Usually occurs after someone files an
appeal and receives a response from the
Processes agencies follow before a hearing
occurs. Generally include the following:
Notice – informs the parties of the time, type,
and place of the hearing and the laws that relate
to the hearing. Can be challenged if there is
insufficient time for preparation
Parties – participants of the hearing. May also
include those economically harmed or those
qualified for some non-economic reason.
Discovery – gathering and exchange of
information to prepare for the hearing. Not
considered a guaranteed right. Agency rules
Conferences – used to clarify issues or stipulate
certain facts for discovery.
Similar to court hearings
Opening statements, witness examination, court
examination, presentation of evidence, closing
If the agency has to statutorily provide a
“hearing on the record,” the guidelines
under the APA are followed, otherwise
agency has discretion on how the meeting
Participants in a Hearing
Judges – conducts the hearing. May be an ALJ.
Individual has to be independent/neutral, without
Paralegals – Assist in all procedures and stages of
Attorneys – person that becomes the combatant
for the client.
Expert witness – because of subject matter
expertise, they are able to explain or refute
Other witnesses – like in a court setting, these
individuals are sworn in and must answer truthfully.
Presentation of Evidence
In general, may not follow the Rules of
Evidence as in court setting
Hearsay evidence may be admissible; may
not follow the exclusionary rule; may allow
illegally obtained evidence
Privileges may be recognized.
Burden is on the party that initiated the
Usually a preponderance of the evidence
standard – 51% or greater
If a civil rights claim – clear and convincing
The results and conclusions arrived at after
the evidence has been presented
Proposed findings by the parties after the
hearing and before the decision
Findings presented by the judge to back up the
Usually in writing
Form of the decision by ALJ can be either:
Initial decisions – usually upheld by agency and
becomes final if not contested or appealed.
Usually issued by agency
Recommended decisions – a decision of law or
policy. Given to agency head, who reviews and
decides on action to take.
All decisions should state reasons upon
which they are based.
Should be supported by law or fact.
Gonzalez v. Freeman (1964)
Action for declaratory and injunctive relief
relating to an administrative action
debarring plaintiffs from participating in
Court held “Absent…procedural regulations
and absent notice, hearing, and findings in
this case, the debarment is invalid.
This was an abuse of agency discretion.