Tag Archive for: Kansas Professional Licencing Attorney

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.