I have had much experience in Administrative Hearings and reviewing Administrative Agencies’ decision with a trial judge or appellate court. A lot of decision that affects a person’s property rights or benefits are decided by administrative agencies.
Agencies decided whether people are entitled to benefits or have violated laws or regulations. If the Agency finds this, then individuals lose one’s benefits or can be fined or have their license suspended or otherwise penalized. These decisions are determined in administrative hearings. Over time courts and legislatures have enacted procedural due process rights.
Notice of hearing must be provided
Due process requires proper notice on the affected parties. The Illinois Administrative Procedure Act requires that all notices be a short and plain statement of the matters asserted. Administrative notices need not be drawn with precision required for judicial proceedings but must be drawn sufficiently so that the other is reasonably apprised of the case against him to intelligently prepare his defense. In order to be effectual, notice should be so clear so as to disclose to people of ordinary intelligence what is proposed.
Hearing to be held before impartial officer
Administrative hearings involve some sort of adversarial process involving the parties affected. An impartial officer considers the evidence from all sides and ultimately makes a decision on the facts and applies the facts to the law or regulations.
Courts can review final administrative decision and have different standard of review
Courts can only review a final administrative decision. A final decision is one that affects the legal rights of the parties and terminates the proceedings before the administrative agency. In deciding an administrative review case the trial court is allowed to affirm or reverse the decision in whole or in part or reverse and remand the decision in whole or in part to the agency for a new hearing and give such instruction as appropriate including taking additional evidence.
Courts have identified three types of questions in administrative review: questions of fact, questions of law, and mixed questions of fact and law. An administrative agency’s findings and conclusions on questions of fact are deemed prima facie true and correct. In examining these decision a reviewing court does not reweigh the evidence but can only decide that the decision is against the manifest weight of evidence: i.e. that the opposite conclusion is clearly evident. In contrast an agency’s interpretation on a question of law is not binding on the reviewing court as the standard is de novo. Mixed questions of fact and law are questions that the historical facts are admitted or established and the rule of law is undisputed and the issue is whether the facts satisfy the statutory standard or whether the rule of law as applied to the established facts is or is not violated. The standard of review in a mixed question is clearly erroneous or that the reviewing court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake was committed.
Types of administrative hearings I have participated in as an attorney
I have represented people in administrative hearings before hearing officers and also sought judicial review of the administrative decision to the Circuit Court of Cook County and even to the Appellate Court.
Illinois Department of Employment Security
Many of the cases I have represent company and individuals involve unemployment. Typically the question involves whether a worker voluntarily left the job without good cause or whether the worker was fired for misconduct. If the worker left voluntarily or was fired for misconduct, then the worker does not receive benefits and consequently the employer’s tax rate does not increase. I have also appealed to the Circuit Court the imposition of new unemployment taxes on employers.
Housing Court cases
Other of my cases involves municipal administrative hearings for building code violations and the like. I successfully challenged the imposition of fines for building court violations such as improper porches, spading bricks, and the like. Other types of municipal administrative hearings involve animal rights, garbage spewed on vacant lots, parking tickets, water bills, and the like.
Appraisers and other professional licensees
I have represented individuals before hearings with the Department of Professional Regulations, particularly real estate appraisers. Appraisers are accused of violating the standards of conduct in appraising property. If the appraiser is found to have violated the standard of conduct, then the department can sanction them or even terminate their professional license so that they can no longer do appraisals. I have also represented out of state plumbers when ensnared in Illinois regulations in doing work without permission.