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After the Hearing
by Daniel G. Martin, Administrative Law Judge
Vol. 29, October 2003
This article outlines the events that occur (or may occur) after an administrative hearing.1
One: The ALJ Prepares His or Her Decision
Upon the conclusion of the administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) has twenty days to prepare a decision. In the great majority of cases, the ALJ’s decision will consist of Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and a Recommended Order. In some instances, such as in proceedings before the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, the ALJ makes only Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. In other cases, such as Capitol Police parking citations, the ALJ issues a final Order. But generally speaking, the ALJ’s role is to make Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, and then to recommend an Order to the agency from which the case arose. All ALJ decisions, whether recommended or final, are made in writing.
Two: OAH Transmits the ALJ’s Decision to the Agency from which the Case Arose
Once the ALJ has completed the decision, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) transmits that decision to the agency from which the case arose. Generally, the agency then has thirty days (with five additional days given for mailing) within which to accept, reject or modify the ALJ’s decision.2 After the agency has acted on the ALJ’s decision, the agency’s decision becomes the final administrative decision in the case and is transmitted to the parties.3
In some instances, an agency will not act on a decision within the required period. In these cases, the ALJ’s decision becomes the final decision. See A.R.S. § 41-1092.08.
Three: Requests for Rehearing
A party who is dissatisfied with a final agency decision has thirty days after service of the decision to file with that agency a request for rehearing.4 Generally, a party should look to the rules of the agency from which the case arose to determine the grounds upon which a request for rehearing may be made. In some cases, the agency may request that the ALJ who conducted the hearing review the request for rehearing, and the response to the request, if any, and then make a recommendation to the agency as to whether the rehearing should be granted. In either case, the agency will make the final decision as to whether to grant the request for rehearing.
A party who wishes to appeal an agency’s final administrative decision may do so by filing a complaint for judicial review in Superior Court. A party who files a complaint for judicial review must, within ten days of filing in Superior Court, file a copy of the complaint with OAH. OAH will then compile the hearing record and transmit that record to the Superior Court. Parties should be aware that OAH does not submit transcripts as part of the hearing record. A party who wants a transcript to be part of the record must arrange at his or her own expense to have the hearing tapes transcribed, and then submit a certified transcript to OAH for transmission to Superior Court.
1 Parties or other persons interested in additional information should refer to Arizona's Uniform Administrative Hearing Procedures Act, A.R.S. § 41-1092 through 41-1092.12, and the procedural rules of the OAH, Arizona Administrative Code rules R2-19-101 through R2-19-122. Both the statutes and the rules may be viewed and downloaded from the OAH website, www.azoah.com. The website also contains general information about the OAH and links to state agencies for which the OAH conducts hearings.
2 In the case of a board or commission that meets monthly or less frequently, the board or commission must act on the Administrative Law Judge’s decision within five days after its next meeting or, if the decision is sent less than thirty days before that meeting (with five additional days given for mailing), within five days after the board or commission’s following meeting.
3 OAH publishes a quarterly newsletter that contains, among other things, statistics on agency responses to ALJ decisions. The newsletters and statistics on agency decisions can be viewed on OAH’s website.
4 Unless otherwise directed by the agency. For example, the Registrar of Contractors informs parties that requests for rehearing should be filed with the OAH. Therefore, in those matters, it is appropriate to file a request for rehearing with OAH and send a courtesy copy to the Registrar of Contractors.