Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Explains The Role Of A Presiding Officer At An Administrative Hearing In Kansas

Kansas’ Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is the quasi-judicial body designated by the Kansas Legislature to preside over disputes involving state agencies’ professional licensing decisions. Efficient dispute resolution is the purpose of OAH, and a necessary step parties must take before seeking relief from the courts. The OAH functions similarly to a court. The presiding officer is called an “administrative law judge” and has a similar role as a judge in a “constitutional” court. Familiarity with the presiding officer, also known as an “ALJ,” officiating over your professional licensing appeal in Kansas may help you win your appeal. Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger has many years of experience appearing before presiding officers at OAH.

OAH presiding officer’s main duty is to provide litigants with a fair and impartial hearing. A person’s rights to Due Process guaranteed by the United States Constitution must be protected. The presiding officer is trained to guard against procedural failures which could strip of a person of their guaranteed protections. Accordingly, the presiding officer has numerous responsibilities designed to protect the parties’ interests at stake. The primary responsibility of an ALJ is to remain a neutral and detached magistrate, or referee. Consequently, no party should contact the presiding officer personally. Neither a party nor their attorney if counsel represents them may telephone the presiding officer unless the other party or their counsel are present. If a party must contact the presiding officer, it must be in writing and mailed, with copies to the opposing party.  Using email is discouraged. Furthermore, OAH rules prohibit a presiding officer from dispensing legal advice. Presiding officers must presume that a person representing themselves at a hearing knows the substantive and procedural laws about an OAH hearing. Closely adhering to these rules prevents presiding officers from developing a personal bias for another party and avoids the appearance of impropriety.

The presiding officer does not possess the power to punish or hold a person in contempt as a means to preserve the integrity of the proceedings. Notwithstanding, the presiding officer has the authority to sanction a party for failure to obey the rules of administrative hearings. The presiding officer may enter an order of default and enter an adverse ruling against a party for failure to obey the administrative hearing rules. For instance, the presiding officer has the power to enter a default against a person arriving more than ten minutes late for a hearing.  Similarly, failure to respond, or responding late to a pleading or motion gives authority to the presiding officer to enter a default against the offending party. The presiding officer enjoys the authority to default a party whose conduct during the hearing violates decorum necessary to conduct a hearing. Parties must treat each other, witnesses, OAH staff, and the presiding officer with respect and dignity. Failure to do so has serious consequences. In addition to entering an order of default against the offending party, the presiding officer can suppress evidence, strike testimony, or enter other orders to compel respectful behavior.

The ALJ conducts the hearing as a trial in a court, with one notable exception: there is no right to a jury in an administrative hearing. Therefore the presiding officer will listen to the facts of the case, apply the law to the facts of the case, and render a prompt decision.  The ALJ requires the agency who’s decision the aggrieved party appealed to present its witnesses and evidence first. The aggrieved party presents its witnesses and evidence second.  The hearings are designed to last for two hours, with each party enjoying equal time to present its case. The ALJ may permit the hearing to run longer if necessary.

Having A Home Field Advantage Can Make the Difference For You

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger has extensive experience appearing before many presiding officers of Kansas’ Office of Administrative Hearings. Attorney Sanger has the insider’s perspective of how administrative hearings work. You need that specialized knowledge and experience if you face professional licensing discipline.  Call Kansas and Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger today at 785-979-4353 for a free consultation.

Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Discuses Addiction Counselor Ethics

Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Discuses Addiction Counselor Ethics

With the high number of people addicted to some form substance in this country, people need a place to turn for help. Addiction counselors can provide the help a person needs to kick their habit. The Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (the Board) issues licenses to addiction counselors. The Board possesses authority to discipline a licensee who violates Kansas law or the Board’s regulations. Consequently, licensees must be vigilant in maintaining an ethical practice. Addiction counselors serve a very vulnerable population who are in a compromised situation because of their addiction. Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger zealously defends addiction counselors facing discipline before the Board.

Kansas’ state statute authorizes the Board to discipline an addiction counselor’s license for any number of reasons. The statute authorizes the Board to deny licensure or license renewal for the same reasons. The statute grants the Board discretion to revoke a license, suspend a license, deny an application for a license, refuse to re-issue a license, limit a license, or place conditions of practice upon a license if the licensee runs afoul of the statute.

A general reading of the statute proves that the rules are designed to protect the public from unethical or unscrupulous practices by an addiction counselor.  The statute also endeavors to protect the consuming public from the negligence of an addiction counselor as well. The Board may discipline a licensee if the licensee becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol and the counselor’s substance abuse problem negatively affects the counselor’s ability to practice.  Additionally, the Board may discipline an addiction counselor for committing a fraud, deceit,  or misrepresentation of fact in obtaining an addiction counselor’s license.  Furthermore, the Board may take adverse action against a licensee if the counselor was convicted of a felony charge. In that instance, the Board must make an independent investigation to ascertain whether the licensee is rehabilitated to be worthy of the public’s trust. Notwithstanding, Kansas’ regulations permit the Board to take adverse action if any criminal conviction related to the practice of the addiction counseling.

The Board has authority to sanction an addiction counselor for other reasons. The Board may discipline an addiction counselor for committing fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in the performance of their duties as an addiction counselor. Dishonesty in the profession is another ground for discipline. The statute does not closely define dishonesty. However, one can expect that the Board would discipline a licensee for dishonest act ranging from dishonest communications with a patient to dishonest billing practices.

The Board can discipline a licensee for incompetence as well. The Board has a vested interest in making certain all of its addiction counselors are competent to serve the public. Also, the Board must ensure that practitioners are mentally and physically competent to perform the tasks required by the profession.  The Board cannot take adverse action against a licensee in this instance unless the mental or physical frailties of the counselor negatively affect the person’s ability to competently perform their function as an addiction counselor.  Additionally, Kansas’ regulations require an addiction counselor to stop practicing or seek treatment if their stress, personal problems, or other difficulties interfere with their professional judgment or ability to act in the patient’s best interests. In addition, the counselor is forbidden from taking advantage of their patient or exercising undue influence over them. This prohibition includes engaging in any romantic or sexual relationship with their patients. Moreover, addiction counselors must maintain the strictest level of counselor-patient confidentiality.

Addiction Counselors Need Help Too

Kansas and Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger understands the personal sacrifice an addiction counselor must make to become licensed and maintain an ethical practice. Even the most scrupulous and careful make mistakes. Do not allow one mistake to derail your career. Call Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule your free consultation.

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Discusses Opioid Addiction In Kansas

Substance abuse in the United States has reached near pandemic proportions. Nearly one in every twelve Americans suffer from the scourge of addiction. New methods for treating addiction, especially opioid addiction, are constantly tested by medical and treatment professionals. This problem created an enormous need for additional addiction counselors and treatment facilities. One highly-regarding health care professional suggests psychiatrists can be used to help break the cycle of addiction. Both addiction counselors and psychiatrists are subject to regulatory agencies with authority to discipline the licensees for unethical practices. Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger aggressively represents addiction counselors and psychiatrists facing accusations of unethical or unprofessional behavior.

Regarding opioid addiction, researchers linked prescription drug abuse to heroin abuse. Prescription painkillers such as Percocet and Oxycodone (Oxycontin) are readily available and are in high demand among addicts. These prescriptions are so prevalent on the street from physicians overprescribing pain medications as a method of treating injuries and chronic pain. They are strong medications which must be taken only under a physician’s care. Oxycontin specifically eases pain from cancer. Regrettably, people of all ages turned to abusing pain medications.

Once the high from pain medications is unavailing to the addict, they frequently turn to heroin. Heroin is an opioid, as are most prescription painkillers. However, heroin is a potentially lethal narcotic and is highly addictive. Whereas pain medications are made in a laboratory and theoretically were approved for prescription use, heroin is a raw powder made from a poppy seed. Mixing the pain-killing medication Fentanyl with heroin or drug dealers substituting Fentanyl for heroin is a common trend. Fentanyl is a prescription painkiller that presents in appearance like heroin but is much stronger than the average street-level dosage of heroin. Addicts, believing the substance is heroin, inject the amount they need to get their “fix.” Unwittingly, the addict injects Fentanyl instead of heroin and dies from an overdose as a result.

Many addicts need intensive treatment to combat their problem. Addiction counselors step in and help those who can no longer help themselves. The Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory regulates and licenses addiction counselors. Addiction counselors are not beyond reproach despite providing consumers with a valuable resource. Addiction counselors must comply with Kansas’ ethical and professional rules of their profession. Kansas Legislature recently passed a bill creating an additional level of counseling in an attempt to combat this problem.

Addiction prevention, as opposed to addiction management, helps alleviate the opioid crisis. One recent theory espoused by Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director of the Nation Institute on Drug Abuse challenges the prevailing treatment paradigm of pain management to reduce the need for prescription painkillers. Dr. Volkow suggests that the trend of physicians overprescribing painkilling medications in the 1990s to treat many patients’ pain symptoms lacked a basis in science. Dr. Volkow suggests that reducing painkilling prescriptions will curb the opioid problem.

What, then, becomes of the person suffering from chronic pain not attributed to cancer? Dr. Volkow recommends turning to psychiatry for help. Dr. Volkow hypothesizes that cognitive-behavioral therapy is a modality that can be very useful in combatting chronic pain. Dr. Volkows suggests that training pain sufferers to think and feel differently about the pain from which they suffer. Consequently, increasing psychiatric intervention will decrease the patient’s need for painkilling medication in addition to providing the patient with a means to ease their suffering.

For More Information

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger aggressively and zealously represents health care professionals facing discipline. If you face professional discipline from your work as an additional counselor or psychiatrist, or any other medical profession, you need an experienced advocate on your side like Attorney Sanger. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 today to schedule your free consultation.

ouri and Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Explains The Rules When Appearing Before The Administrative Hearings Commission

A licensing professional disciplined by the agency that issued the discipline has the right to appeal that decision. In Missouri, an aggrieved licensee must appeal that decision to Missouri’s Administrative Hearings Commission (AHC). Several procedural rules govern hearings before the AHC. A party appearing before the AHC must know, or at least be familiar with, the AHC’s procedural rules. Failure to know and follow the procedural rules may cause you to lose your appeal. The best option for an aggrieved licensee is to hire an experienced attorney who has vast experience appearing before the AHC. Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger has the necessary experience you need when appealing an adverse decision by a licensing agency.

An administrative law judge decides appeals before the AHC. The administrative law judge is also called a commissioner. The commissioner is an attorney licensed to practice law in Missouri. The commissioner is an impartial arbiter of the case. The commissioner is responsible for the progress of the appeal through the hearings process. That process begins with a complaint. The aggrieved party files the complaint with the AHC and serves the state agency responsible for the issuing professional discipline. The state agency, represented by attorneys for the State, then have the chance to file an answer to the complaint. The respondent must file an answer to the complaint within 30 days from the date when they received the complaint.

After a party responds to the complaint, a party can file motions. The party filing motions must serve them upon the opposing party. A motion is a pleading that asks the commissioner to make a ruling on issues such as issuing subpoenas to witnesses, ordering parties to answer discovery requests, or to produce evidence. Discovery may consist of written questions called interrogatories, requests for admissions, and taking depositions. The commissioner has the obligation to decide the pre-trial motions and issue rulings to the parties.

Once the period for discovery and other motions elapses then, the commissioner schedules a final hearing. The commissioner has the obligation to conduct the hearing fairly and decide the issues based on the evidence presented by the parties. The commissioner listens to the testimony of the witnesses and evaluates their credibility. The commissioner also analyzes the exhibits admitted into evidence. The parties can, if they wish, file a stipulation of facts. The commissioner will decide the case based upon the testimony and exhibits or the stipulation of facts.

The person aggrieved by a decision of the agency has the Constitution right to a fair hearing.  The commissioner must preserve those rights. A fair hearing means that the aggrieved party has an opportunity to be heard, to compel witnesses to testify on their behalf, and to cross-examine a witness who testifies against the aggrieved party.  Following these Constitutional mandates ensures the hearing and the commissioner’s decision is fairly decided.

The petitioner has the burden of proof in an AHC hearing. That means the person who filed the complaint must prove to the commissioner that the licensing authority wrongfully disciplined the licensee.  The licensee must produce evidence and witnesses at the hearing. The state agency has the right to respond and offer witnesses and evidence as well.  At the conclusion of the hearing, the commissioner can issue a bench decision. A bench decision is announced by the commissioner at the end of the hearing while the parties are present. If the parties wish, they can request a memorandum decision. The commissioner authors the memorandum decision. The memorandum contains the commissioner’s findings of facts and rulings of law.

Call An Experienced Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney If You Must Appear Before The AHC

Missouri and Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger has the experience you need to prove a licensing authority aggrieved you. Call attorney Danielle Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule your free initial consultation. Do not hesitate. Getting Attorney Sanger on your side early in your case exponentially increases your chances of success.