Hearing Examiner


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Hearing Examiner

An employee of an Administrative Agency who is charged with conducting adjudicative proceedings on matters within the scope of the jurisdiction of the agency.

Hearing examiners are employees of federal, state, and local administrative agencies who act as judges to resolve conflicts that are within the jurisdiction of their particular agency. Hearing examiners have also been called hearing officers, and since the 1980s, they are commonly referred to as administrative law judges (ALJs).

The growth of administrative law started with the creation of the federal Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission in the late nineteenth century. Administrative law burgeoned in the 1930s, as President franklin d. roosevelt's New Deal policies led to the establishment of Executive Branch agencies that were charged with regulating the economy and overseeing social welfare policies. Since the 1930s, all levels of government have established administrative agencies.

ALJs are governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C.A. § 551 et seq. [1966]). They are appointed through a professional merit selection system that requires high test scores and, in many instances, experience in the particular regulatory program in which they wish to serve. Once appointed, ALJs may not be removed or disciplined, except for good cause. These parameters are meant to shield administrative law from political appointments and political pressure.

Hearing examiners serve in different adjudicative areas and are involved in all types of government activity, from the administration of environmental regulations to the review of Unemployment Compensation claims. For example, when an agency is charged with issuing permits, appropriate procedures are set out in administrative regulations. If there are objections to the granting of a permit, a hearing may be held to determine the merits of the application. A hearing examiner conducts the hearing, enforces appropriate rules of evidence and procedure, and issues a decision. This decision may be appealed to a higher level of authority in the agency, and if that does not resolve the issue, to a court proceeding in the judicial branch.

Even though they are not as insulated from political pressures as judicial branch judges, hearing examiners seek to maintain their independence. During the Reagan administration, in the 1980s, this independence was challenged in the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) disability review section. SSA officials, concerned with perceived inconsistencies and inaccuracies in disability rulings, singled out for review federal ALJs who rendered the highest percentage of decisions favorable to claimants. The review program received much criticism for allegedly putting subtle pressure on the ALJs to rule against claimants more often. Though the most intrusive features of the program were abandoned, the program itself served as a reminder that ALJs were part of an administrative agency and not independent, judicial branch decision makers.

References in periodicals archive ?
Sengelmann said that in a separate case, a Railroad Commission hearing examiner actually threw out a disposal well application after the district showed it could impact brackish water supplies that San Antonio plans to use.
The hearing examiner also conducts other hearings as provided by statute, ordinance, or as directed by the county commissioners or director of planning and development.
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The City Is Requesting A Statement Of Qualifications Outlining Your Ability To Provide Professional Hearing Examiner Services, Including But Not Limited To: 1.
The evidence shows that the $85 million revenue increase is just and reasonableO" the hearing examiner wrote in her evaluation of the agreement, or stipulation, which was reached in February between PNM and a group of key parties that includes Commission staff and the state Attorney General's Office.
Request for Proposals: Provide for Hearing examiner
Prior to his appointment to the federal bench, Judge Williams served Prince George's County, Maryland, in legal capacities, including as State's Attorney (elected for two terms), Public Defender, Special Counsel, Hearing Examiner, and as a Substitute Juvenile Master.
Following several weeks of hearings this year, a hearing examiner on Nov.
Plaintiff alleging improper procedures were followed by the Douglas County Hearing Examiner in a May 5 decision regarding a road reimbursement determination of liability.
Joey had been taken in after a hearing examiner for the Department of Animal Regulation, who found that Joey was not a dangerous dog, had revoked Casey's license to have a dog for three years because neighbors complained Joey had gotten loose in the family's Sherman Oaks neighborhood ``10 to 30 times'' over the past year.
The CUP, a necessary approval to build and operate the project in Whitman County, was reviewed and approved by an independent, specialized Hearing Examiner, who is employed by Whitman County.
A last round of counter-briefs will be heard in late February 2015, and after that the hearing examiner will report to the PRC's five commissioners, who will finally rule on PNM's proposal.