Are Professional Licensing Decisions Presumptively Valid In Kansas?

A professional licensee aggrieved by licensing boards may seek redress of those wrongs in Kansas courts. State statutes limit a court’s authority to hear appeals from administrative agencies such as licensing boards.  The court is permitted to inquire into a very narrow scope of well-defined issues. A reviewing court does not re-try the case. Rather, the court looks for errors of law in the agency decisions or crafts a decision that is well beyond the weight of the evidence. Experienced, savvy, and skilled professional licensing attorneys know how to use the law to their client’s advantage. Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger uses her knowledge of the law and skilfully applies it to the benefit of her clients facing discipline on their professional license.

Kansas state statute 77-621 controls the scope of review for a court hearing an appeal from an administrative agency. At the outset, 77-621 states that the burden of proof and persuasion is on the party aggrieved by the agency’s decision.  Consequently, the licensee must produce evidence to show that the agency decision was invalid and convince the court that the agency was wrong in making its decision.

The statute permits the court to revoke the agency’s decision in limited circumstances.  The court may overturn agency action if the law, rule, or regulation the agency applied in making its decision is unconstitutional on its face or the law as applied is unconstitutional.  The court has the authority to overturn an agency decision if the agency acted beyond its jurisdictional limitations.  Additionally, the court has the authority to overturn an agency’s decision if the agency erroneously applied the law or misinterpreted the law. Agency action may be overturned if the agency failed to follow appropriate procedure or the procedure it follow was unlawful.  Furthermore, the court will overturn agency action if the persons making the decision did not constitute a proper decision-making body or its members were subject to disqualification. Agency action will be overturned if the agency relies on a fact in evidence that was not proved to be “substantial” in light of the entire record of evidence.  The court cannot re-weigh the evidence or engage in a de novo (meaning “anew”) review. Lastly, the court will overturn agency action if agency action was unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious. The standard of review that a court applies when reviewing agency decisions is well-settled. The court may not substitute its judgment for that of the agency.

An appellate court has jurisdiction to hear an appeal from the lower court’s ruling on an agency decision.  The appeals court reviews the district court action to be certain that the court followed the command of 77-621. Next, the appellate court reviews the record of the agency bearing in mind the same scope of review as that of the lower court.  The appeals court determines whether the statute, rule, or regulation supporting the agency’s decision is constitutional. The appeals court begins its review from the premise that it must interpret the law as intended by the legislature. Words are given their ordinary meanings, and the court tries to interpret the law so the interpretation does not create unreasonable results.  The appellate court cannot, like the lower courts, weigh the credibility of the witnesses or evaluating conflicting evidence. Those tasks are left up to the agency to determine. However, courts will give some deference to the agency’s interpretation of the relevant law and will not overturn its interpretation unless the agency was erroneous as a matter of law.

For Further Information

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger vigorously defends professionals who face discipline on their licenses. Attorney Sanger is a knowledgeable and zealous advocate who will fight to protect your rights. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule your no-obligation, free consultation.