Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Explains Administrative Appeals

Adverse action against a professional license can be appealed to a higher court for review. In Kansas, an administrative law judge makes findings and rulings at a hearing. The administrative law judge’s findings of fact and rulings of law must be based upon the evidence produced by the licensing authority at a hearing.  The licensee may accept the findings of the administrative law judge or appeal. The case is not heard all over again. Rather, the reviewing judge, usually a district court judge, will review the record generated by the investigation and hearing before the administrative law judge to ensure that the administrative law judge’s decision complied with Kansas law.  Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger has vast experience in representing professional licensees in adversarial actions at the administrative level and on appeal.

In Kansas, the licensing authority has the burden of proving the allegations against the licensee. The administrative law judge must find the licensing authority has proved its case with substantial competent evidence to take adverse action against the licensee.  On appeal, the party with the burden of proof changes. The party asserting the error must prove that the ruling was wrong and its decision was “arbitrary and capricious.” The reviewing court will not hear new evidence. The reviewing court must accept the findings of fact found by the administrative law judge if the facts are “supported by substantial competent evidence.” “Substantial competent evidence” has been defined by Kansas courts as evidence that is relevant and provides a “substantial basis” to resolve the contested issues. The prevailing party is entitled to deference on the facts if the facts of the case are disputed on appeal to determine if the facts are supported by substantial competent evidence.” The court does not re-evaluate the evidence. However, the issues of law as decided by the administrative law judge are reviewed de novo by the appellate judge.

With those guidelines the reviewing court will only reverse the administrative law judge’s decision in very limited circumstances. One such circumstance is that the underlying statute, regulation, or by-law which formed the basis for punishment is unconstitutional and invalid, either “on its face” or “as applied.”  A reviewing court may overrule the findings if the agency investigating the allegations of wrongdoing had no jurisdiction to do so. The court may also overturn the decision if the administrative law judge failed to decide every issue required for resolution of the entire matter. If the investigating agency follows an illegal investigatory procedure or fails to follow proper procedure, then the decision may be overturned. Likewise, if the persons investigating the wrongdoing were not properly authorized to do so then the decision may be overturned. Furthermore, if the agency action is based upon a “determination of fact” of which there is no evidence and the fact is “substantial” to the determination of the issue. Lastly, the reviewing court may overturn the administrative law judge’s decision if the decision is arbitrary or capricious.

The district court’s decision may also be appealed. An appellate court will review a lower court’s decision to ensure that the district court limited its review strictly to the issues permitted. In that sense, an appellate court will undertake a similar review of the record as the district court. The appellate court is limited to the same areas of inquiry as the district court.

Do Not Try To Navigate These Choppy Waters Alone

Kansas Professional Licensing Attorney Danielle Sanger has vast experience in representing numerous professional licensees who face disciplinary action. Attorney Sanger is keenly aware of the sacrifice and determination required in obtaining a professional license. Adversary proceedings against a professional license are complicated and confusing. Contact Kansas professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule your free consultation.