Missouri Professional Licensing Defense Attorney Danielle Sanger Discusses How You Can Appeal an Adverse Licensing Decision to a Judge

You have a right as a party aggrieved by a decision rendered by the Missouri Administrative Hearings Commission, or AHC, to a judge sitting in a Missouri Circuit Court. Appealing to a judge is not done automatically. You must preserve your right to appeal, and you will lose out entirely if you fail to take all necessary actions to protect your appellate rights. Appealing the decision from the AHC to a judge in the Circuit Court is a highly technical procedure replete with potential pitfalls. Consequently, it is vital to the success of your claim, practicing your chosen profession or occupation to protect your right of appeal, and the preservation of your way of life to align yourself with a highly motivated, well-respected, and knowledgeable Missouri professional licensing attorney or you could lose out on your only opportunity to have a judge rule on your professional licensing appeal.

Appeals to a judge from the AHC are governed by statute. Missouri Revisor of Statutes or RSMo for short, sections 536.100 to 536.160 delineate the procedural and substantive rights afforded to a person who wishes to appeal an adverse decision of the AHC to a judge sitting in the Circuit Court. The statute confers jurisdiction of all AHC appeals in the Circuit Courts of Missouri. The statute requires the person appealing the decision of the AHC to the Circuit Court to file a complaint in the court within 30 days from the mailing by the agency to the appellant of the final order. Missing that deadline will terminate the appellant’s ability to have his or her case decided by a judge.

As with any administrative ruling, the licensee must exhaust all of his or her opportunities to obtain the requested relief before the AHC. Failing to exhaust all available avenues of administrative review is grounds for a dismissal of the appeal to a judge. The licensee need not ask for a rehearing or reconsideration of the AHC’s final decision before appealing to a Circuit Court judge unless the specific circumstances of the case warrant such a motion.

The venue of the appeal is an important consideration for a licensee who wants to appeal the AHC’s decision to a judge. All appeals from an adverse decision rendered by the AHC must be heard in Circuit Court. The presumptive venue for AHC appeals is the Cole County Circuit Court. However, a licensee can file an appeal in any Circuit Court sitting in the county in which the licensee resides. The licensee has the option of opting to file in the Cole County Circuit Court or in the Circuit Court of the county in which the licensee resides.

Understanding what a judge has the authority to review and decide on appeal is helpful. The judge does not hear the entire case all over again. The judge receives a copy of the proceedings that transpired before the AHC, called the “record.” The judge next analyzes the record, bearing in mind the judge has limited scope for review. The judge will examine the record for any failures of the AHC’s decision and procedure employed during the hearing for abuse of discretion, arbitrary and capricious rulings, the findings are unsupported by the facts established by the record, unconstitutional action by the AHC, the AHC exceeded its statutory authority, or the entire process was unfair to the appellant.

Missouri law leaves a slight window open for a judge to hear the entire case again, which is called de novo review. The judge has the authority to hear an AHC appeal de novo only when the appeal centers around the AHC’s application of the law to the facts of the case. The judge does not have the authority to conduct additional fact-finding.

Any person aggrieved by a Circuit Court judge’s decision has the same appellate rights as any civil litigant in Missouri.

Complicated Rules Require Expert-Level Representation

Missouri Professional Licensing Defense Attorney Danielle Sanger is ready to protect your rights if you are facing professional discipline in Missouri. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to rely upon for expert legal advice.