Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Administrative law judge

Administrative law judge

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Administrative law judge'
Start a new discussion about 'Administrative law judge'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
An administrative law judge (ALJ) in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 is an official who presides at an administrative trial
Trial (law)
In law, a trial is when parties to a dispute come together to present information in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court...

-type hearing to resolve a dispute between a government agency
Government agency
A government or state agency is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government that is responsible for the oversight and administration of specific functions, such as an intelligence agency. There is a notable variety of agency types...

 and someone affected by a decision of that agency. The ALJ is usually the initial trier of fact and decision maker. ALJs can administer oath
Oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

s, take testimony
Testimony
In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. All testimonies should be well thought out and truthful. It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on a Bible when taking an oath...

, rule on questions of evidence
Evidence (law)
The law of evidence encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of facts in a legal proceeding. These rules determine what evidence can be considered by the trier of fact in reaching its decision and, sometimes, the weight that may be given to that evidence...

, and make factual and legal determinations. ALJ-controlled proceedings are comparable to a bench trial
Bench trial
A bench trial is a trial held before a judge sitting without a jury. The term is chiefly used in common law jurisdictions to describe exceptions from jury trial, as most other legal systems do not use juries to any great extent....

, and, depending upon the agency's jurisdiction, may have complex multi-party adjudication, as is the case with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the United States federal agency with jurisdiction over interstate electricity sales, wholesale electric rates, hydroelectric licensing, natural gas pricing, and oil pipeline rates...

, or simplified and less formal procedures, as is the case with the Social Security Administration
Social Security Administration
The United States Social Security Administration is an independent agency of the United States federal government that administers Social Security, a social insurance program consisting of retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits...

.

Federal appointment and tenure


The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946
Administrative Procedure Act
The Administrative Procedure Act , , is the United States federal law that governs the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations. The APA also sets up a process for the United States federal courts to directly review...

 (APA) requires that federal ALJs be appointed based on scores achieved in a comprehensive testing procedure, including a four-hour written examination and an oral examination before a panel that includes an OPM (Office of Personnel Management) representative, American Bar Association
American Bar Association
The American Bar Association , founded August 21, 1878, is a voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. The ABA's most important stated activities are the setting of academic standards for law schools, and the formulation...

 representative, and a sitting federal ALJ. Federal ALJs are the only merit-based judicial corps in the United States.

In American administrative law
Administrative law
Administrative law is the body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government. Government agency action can include rulemaking, adjudication, or the enforcement of a specific regulatory agenda. Administrative law is considered a branch of public law...

, ALJs are Article I judges, and are not Article III judges under the U.S. Constitution. Unlike Article III judges, Article I judges are not confirmed by the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

ALJs are generally considered to be part of the executive branch, not the judicial branch, but the APA is designed to guarantee the decisional independence of ALJs. They have absolute immunity
Absolute immunity
Absolute immunity is a form of legal immunity in contrast to qualified immunity. While qualified immunity, by its very nature, carries with it a set of conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the immunity to attach, an absolute immunity is unconditional....

 from liability for their judicial acts and are triers of fact "insulated from political influence". Federal administrative law judges are not responsible to, or subject to the supervision or direction of employees or agents of the federal agency engaged in the performance of investigative or prosecution functions for the agency. Ex parte communications are prohibited. ALJs are exempt from performance ratings, evaluation, and bonuses. Agency officials may not interfere with their decision making and administrative law judges may be discharged only for good cause based upon a complaint filed by the agency with the Merit Systems Protection Board established and determined after an APA hearing on the record before an MSPB ALJ. Only ALJs receive these statutory protections; "hearing officers" or "trial examiners", with delegated hearing functions, are not similarly protected by the APA.

Authority and review of federal ALJs


The United States Supreme Court has recognized that the role of a federal administrative law judge is "functionally comparable" to that of an Article III judge. An ALJ's powers are often, if not generally, comparable to those of a trial judge: The ALJ may issue subpoenas, rule on proffers of evidence, regulate the course of the hearing, and make or recommend decisions. The process of agency adjudication is currently structured so as to assure that the ALJ exercises his or her independent judgment on the evidence before them, free from pressures by the parties or other officials within the agency.

The procedure for reviewing an ALJ's decision varies depending upon the agency. Agencies generally have an internal appellate body, with some agencies having a Cabinet secretary decide the final internal appeals. Moreover, after the internal agency appeals have been exhausted, a party may have the right to file an appeal in the state or federal courts. Relevant statutes usually require a party to exhaust all administrative appeals before they are allowed to sue an agency in court.

State ALJs


Most U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s have a statute
Statute
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs a state, city, or county. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. The word is often used to distinguish law made by legislative bodies from case law, decided by courts, and regulations...

 modeled after the APA or somewhat similar to it. In some states, like New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, the state law is also known as the Administrative Procedure Act.

Unlike federal ALJs, whose powers are guaranteed by federal statute, state ALJs have widely varying power and prestige. In some state law contexts, ALJs have almost no power; their decisions are accorded practically no deference and become, in effect, recommendations. In some cities, notably New York, ALJs are at-will employees of the agency, making their decisional independence potentially questionable. In some agencies, ALJs dress like lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

s in business suits
Suit (clothing)
In clothing, a suit is a set of garments made from the same cloth, consisting of at least a jacket and trousers. Lounge suits are the most common style of Western suit, originating in the United Kingdom as country wear...

, share offices, and hold hearings in ordinary conference rooms. In other agencies (particularly the Division of Workers' Compensation of the California Department of Industrial Relations), ALJs wear robes like Article III judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

s, are referred to as "Honorable" and "Your Honor", work in private chambers, hold hearings in special "hearing rooms" that look like small courtroom
Courtroom
A courtroom is the actual enclosed space in which a judge regularly holds court.The schedule of official court proceedings is called a docket; the term is also synonymous with a court's caseload as a whole.-Courtroom design:-United States:...

s, and have court clerks who swear in witnesses.

Professional organizations


Professional organizations that represent federal ALJs include the Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference, the Association of Administrative Law Judges, which represents only Social Security ALJs, and the Forum of United States Administrative Law judges. Professional organizations that include both state and federal ALJs include the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, the ABA National Conference of Administrative Law Judiciary, and the National Association of Hearing Officials.

List of U.S. federal agencies with ALJs

  • Coast Guard
    United States Coast Guard
    The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission
    Commodity Futures Trading Commission
    The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates futures and option markets....

  • Department of Agriculture
    United States Department of Agriculture
    The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

  • Department of Health and Human Services/Department Appeals Board
  • Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Medicare
    Medicare (United States)
    Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over; to those who are under 65 and are permanently physically disabled or who have a congenital physical disability; or to those who meet other...

     Hearings and Appeals
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of the Interior
    United States Department of the Interior
    The United States Department of the Interior is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native...

  • Department of Justice
    United States Department of Justice
    The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

    /Executive Office for Immigration Review
    Executive Office for Immigration Review
    The Executive Office for Immigration Review is an office of the United States Department of Justice and is responsible for adjudicating immigration cases in the United States. The EOIR oversees immigration courts in the United States through the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge...

  • Department of Labor
    United States Department of Labor
    The United States Department of Labor is a Cabinet department of the United States government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re-employment services, and some economic statistics. Many U.S. states also have such departments. The...

  • Department of Transportation
    United States Department of Transportation
    The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967...

  • Department of Veterans Affairs
    United States Department of Veterans Affairs
    The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

  • Drug Enforcement Administration
    Drug Enforcement Administration
    The Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice, tasked with combating drug smuggling and use within the United States...

  • Environmental Protection Agency
    United States Environmental Protection Agency
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an independent federal law enforcement agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual's race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, perceived intelligence,...

  • Federal Aviation Administration
    Federal Aviation Administration
    The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

  • Federal Communications Commission
    Federal Communications Commission
    The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute , and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the...

  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is the United States federal agency with jurisdiction over interstate electricity sales, wholesale electric rates, hydroelectric licensing, natural gas pricing, and oil pipeline rates...

  • Federal Labor Relations Authority
    Federal Labor Relations Authority
    The Federal Labor Relations Authority is an independent agency of the United States government that governs labor relations between the federal government and its employees....

  • Federal Maritime Commission
    Federal Maritime Commission
    The United States Federal Maritime Commission is an independent federal agency, based in Washington D.C., responsible for the regulation of oceanborne transportation in the foreign commerce of the U.S.-Mission:The FMC:...

  • Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
    Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
    The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission is an independent adjudicative agency of the United States government that provides administrative trial and appellate review of legal disputes arising under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments Act, or Mine Act, of 1977.Under the Mine...

  • Federal Trade Commission
    Federal Trade Commission
    The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

  • Food and Drug Administration
    Food and Drug Administration
    The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

  • International Trade Commission
    United States International Trade Commission
    The United States International Trade Commission is an independent, bi-partisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency of the United States that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches. Further, the agency determines the impact of imports on U.S...

  • Merit Systems Protection Board
    United States Merit Systems Protection Board
    The Merit Systems Protection Board is an independent quasi-judicial agency established to protect federal merit systems against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices and to ensure adequate protection for federal employees against abuses by agency management...

  • National Labor Relations Board
    National Labor Relations Board
    The National Labor Relations Board is an independent agency of the United States government charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. Unfair labor practices may involve union-related situations or instances of...

  • National Transportation Safety Board
    National Transportation Safety Board
    The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent U.S. government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation. In this role, the NTSB investigates and reports on aviation accidents and incidents, certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine...

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that was established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and was first opened January 19, 1975...

  • Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
    Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
    The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission is an independent Federal agency created to decide contests of citations or penalties resulting from OSHA inspections of American work places....

  • Office of Financial Institution Adjudication
  • Patent and Trademark Office
    United States Patent and Trademark Office
    The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

  • Postal Service
    United States Postal Service
    The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Small Business Administration
    Small Business Administration
    The Small Business Administration is a United States government agency that provides support to entrepreneurs and small businesses. The mission of the Small Business Administration is "to maintain and strengthen the nation's economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses...

  • Social Security Administration
    Social Security Administration
    The United States Social Security Administration is an independent agency of the United States federal government that administers Social Security, a social insurance program consisting of retirement, disability, and survivors' benefits...



Other federal agencies may request the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Office of Personnel Management
The United States Office of Personnel Management is an independent agency of the United States government that manages the civil service of the federal government. The current Director is John Berry.-History:...

 to lend them Administrative Law Judges from other federal agencies for a period of up to six months.

List of state departments and agencies with ALJs


Some states, like California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, follow the federal model of having a separate corps of ALJs attached to each agency that uses them. Others, like New Jersey, have consolidated all ALJs together into a single agency that holds hearings on behalf of all other state agencies. This type of state adjudicatory agency is called a "central panel agency". Many states have a central panel agency, but the agency does not handle all the hearings for every state agency.
  • Alabama Department of Revenue
  • California Department of Consumer Affairs
    California Department of Consumer Affairs
    The California Department of Consumer Affairs is a department under the California State and Consumer Services Agency. DCA's stated mission is to serve the interests of California's consumers by ensuring a standard of professionalism in key industries and promoting informed consumer practices...

  • California Department of Health Services
  • California Department of Industrial Relations
  • California Department of Social Services
    California Department of Social Services
    The California Department of Social Services is a California state agency for many of the programs defined as part of the social safety net in the United States, and is within the auspices of the California Health and Human Services Agency...

  • California Employment Development Department
  • California Public Utilities Commission
    California Public Utilities Commission
    The California Public Utilities Commission is a regulatory agency which regulates privately owned public utilities in the state of California, including electric power, telecommunications, natural gas and water companies...

  • Florida Division of Administrative Hearings
  • Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings
  • Illinois Human Rights Commission
  • Industrial Commission of Arizona
  • Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals-Division of Administrative Hearings (does hearings for some but not all state agencies)
  • Iowa Workforce Development Department
  • Louisiana Division of Administrative Law
  • Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings
    Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings
    The Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings is an independent, central panel agency that holds administrative hearings on behalf of certain agencies of the executive branch of the state government...

  • Maryland Public Service Commission
    Maryland Public Service Commission
    The Maryland Public Service Commission is an independent administrative agency within the state government which regulates public utilities and certain taxi cab and other passenger services in Maryland...

     (hearings for public utility cases)
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation
    Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation
    The Massachusetts Department of Transportation oversees roads, public transit, aeronautics, and transportation licensing and registration in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...

  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
    Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
    The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is an agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, responsible for protecting the environment in the state. Its areas of responsibility include preventing pollution of air, water, and ground; protecting wetlands; waste and recycling issues;...

  • Michigan State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules
  • Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings (does hearings for some but not all state agencies)
  • New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (does hearings for all state agencies)
  • New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

     Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (does hearings for all city agencies)
  • New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

     Taxi and Limousine Commission Taxicabs of the United States
    Taxicabs of the United States
    Throughout the United States there is a mature system of taxicabs. Most U.S. cities have a licensing scheme which restricts the number of taxicabs allowed....

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
    The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is responsible for the conservation, improvement, and protection of natural resources within the U.S. state of New York. It was founded in 1970, replacing the previous Conservation Department...

  • New York State Department of Labor
  • Pennsylvania Department of Insurance
    Pennsylvania Department of Insurance
    -External links:*...

  • Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Workers' Compensation
    Workers' compensation
    Workers' compensation is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee's right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence...

  • Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
    Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
    The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is an independent government agency that manages the beverage alcohol industry in Pennsylvania. It is responsible for licensing the possession, sale, storage, transportation, importation, and manufacture of wine, spirits, and malt or brewed beverages in the...

  • Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
    Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
    Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is the public utility commission in Pennsylvania. It is composed of five commissioners, appointed by the Governor with the consent of the state Senate....

  • South Carolina Administrative Law Court (does hearings for all state agencies)
  • Texas Department of Banking
  • Texas Finance Commission
  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission
    Texas Health and Human Services Commission
    The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is a state agency of Texas. The commission oversees several state departments that deal with health and human services, including itself and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas...

  • Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (does hearings for only some state agencies)
  • Traffic Violations Bureau
    Traffic Violations Bureau
    Traffic Violations Bureau, often abbreviated as TVB, is an arm of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The bureau is entrusted with adjudicating non-criminal traffic violations in New York City, the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, and in a significant portion of Suffolk County...

     of New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

     State DMV
  • Washington Office of Administrative Hearings (does hearings for all state agencies plus some local ones)

External links