Guide to Statutes and Rules Relating to Hearings
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Overview

The Office of Administrative Hearings conducts administrative hearings, in which the Office of General Counsel represents the Department's Division of Licensing Services, to determine whether discipline of licensees regulated by the Department is warranted. This Guide to Statutes and Rules Relating to Hearings provides information to those who are respondents in a hearing and their attorneys. Included in the Guide are excerpts from the New York State Administrative Procedure Act, the Rules of the New York Department of State (19 NYCRR), and a summary of those rules.

Summary of Hearing Rules of Procedure

The New York Department of State's Rules of Procedure for Adjudicatory Proceedings are set forth in Part 400 of 19 NYCRR. The following is a summary of such rules:

  1. All hearings will be conducted in accordance with the State Administrative Procedure Act. Pertinent provisions are as follows: 
     
    1. All hearings will be commenced on reasonable notice (generally 10 days under our statutes). The notice will apprise the respondent of matters asserted and of any statutes or rules involved. Parties may present written and/or oral argument on any issue. 
       
    2. The department will make a record of all hearing proceedings including a transcript of the hearing and shall furnish a copy of the record or any part thereof to the respondent at cost. All parties have the usual rights of parties in civil proceedings, i.e., to examine and cross-examine witnesses, make objections, etc. 
       
    3. The Administrative Law Judge will preside over the hearing in a fair and impartial manner. Generally, an Administrative Law Judge has the authority of any judge in a civil matter and may order discovery and depositions. The judge rules on the admissibility of evidence and is not bound by strict rules of evidence. 
       

    4. The Administrative Law Judge or other person assigned to render a decision does so by including findings of fact and conclusions of law or reasons for his/her decision. The judge will not consult with any party about his/her decision except upon notice to all parties.

  2. The rules require a decision to be made in the format of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Parties may propose findings of fact and the decision will contain a ruling on such findings. 
     
  3. Subpoenas compelling attendance of witnesses or documents may be issued by the Administrative Law Judge or any attorney duly admitted to practice in the State of New York. 
     
  4. Motions may be made to dismiss the complaint upon failure of proof. 
     
  5. Every person is entitled to representation and someone who is not a lawyer may represent a respondent. Every representative must file a notice in accordance with Section 166 of the New York State Executive Law on forms to be provided by the Department. 
     
  6. A maximum of two adjournments of a hearing may be granted and requests must be made by affidavit addressed to the Administrative Law Judge and must be received no later than three working days prior to the date of the hearing. 
     
  7. All adjudicatory proceedings must be finally disposed of within 150 days of the date of the hearing unless the hearing is adjourned by mutual consent or by request of the respondent; or the time is extended by mutual consent or the New York Secretary of State or Administrative Law Judge assigned to the matter makes a written declaration of necessity to extend citing his/her reasons therefor.

State Administrative Procedure Act

§ 102. Definitions

3. "Adjudicatory proceeding" means any activity which is not a rule making proceeding or an employee disciplinary action before an agency, except an administrative tribunal created by statute to hear or determine allegations of traffic infractions which may also be heard in a court of appropriate jurisdiction, in which a determination of the legal rights, duties or privileges of named parties thereto is required by law to be made only on a record and after an opportunity for a hearing.

 

4. "License" includes the whole or part of any agency permit, certificate, approval, registration, charter, or similar form of permission required by law.

 

5. "Licensing" includes any agency activity respecting the grant, denial, renewal, revocation, suspension, annulment, withdrawal, recall, cancellation or amendment of a license.

 

6. "Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization of any character other than an agency engaged in the particular rule making, declaratory ruling, or adjudication.

 

7. "Party" means any person or agency named or admitted as a party or properly seeking and entitled as of right to be admitted as a party; but nothing herein shall be construed to prevent an agency from admitting any person or agency as a party for limited purposes.

Adjudicatory Proceedings

§ 301. Hearings

  1. In an adjudicatory proceeding, all parties shall be afforded an opportunity for hearing within reasonable time.
     
  2. All parties shall be given reasonable notice of such hearing, which notice shall include (a) a statement of the time, place, and nature of the hearing; (b) a statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held; (c) a reference to the particular sections of the statutes and rules involved, where possible; (d) a short and plain statement of matters asserted; and (e) a statement that interpreter services shall be made available to deaf persons, at no charge, pursuant to this section. Upon application of any party, a more definite and detailed statement shall be furnished whenever the agency finds that the statement is not sufficiently definite or not sufficiently detailed. The finding of the agency as to the sufficiency of definiteness or detail of the statement or its failure or refusal to furnish a more definite or detailed statement shall not be subject to judicial review. Any statement furnished shall be deemed, in all respects, to be a part of the notice of hearing.
     
  3. Agencies shall adopt rules governing the procedures on adjudicatory proceedings and appeals, in accordance with provisions of article two of this chapter, and shall prepare a summary of such procedures in plain language. Agencies shall make such summaries available to the public upon request, and a copy of such summary shall be provided to any party cited by the agency for violation of the laws, rules or orders enforced by the agency.
     
  4. All parties shall be afforded an opportunity to present written argument on issues of law and an opportunity to present evidence and such argument on issues of fact, provided however that nothing contained herein shall be construed to prohibit an agency from allowing parties to present oral argument within a reasonable time. In fixing the time and place for hearings and oral argument, due regard shall be had for the convenience of the parties.
     
  5. Unless precluded by statute, disposition may be made of any adjudicatory proceeding by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order, default, or other informal method.
     
  6. Whenever any deaf person is a party to an adjudicatory proceeding before an agency, or a witness therein, such agency in all instances shall appoint a qualified interpreter who is certified by a recognized national or New York state credentialing authority to interpret the proceedings to, and the testimony of, such deaf person. The agency conducting the adjudicatory proceeding shall determine a reasonable fee for all such interpreting services which shall be a charge upon the agency.

 

§ 302. Record

  1. The record in an adjudicatory proceeding shall include: (a) all notices, pleadings, motions, intermediate rulings; (b) evidence presented; (c) a statement of matters officially noticed except matters so obvious that a statement of them would serve no useful purpose; (d) questions and offers of proof, objections thereto, and rulings thereon; (e) proposed findings and exceptions, if any; (f) any findings of fact, conclusions of law or other recommendations made by a presiding officer; and (g) any decision, determination, opinion, order or report rendered.
     
  2. The agency shall make a complete record of all adjudicatory proceedings conducted before it. For this purpose, unless otherwise required by statute, the agency may use whatever means it deems appropriate, including but not limited to the use of stenographic transcriptions or electronic recording devices. Upon request made by any party upon the agency within a reasonable time, but prior to the time for commencement of judicial review, of its giving notice of its decision, determination, opinion or order, the agency shall prepare the record together with any transcript of proceedings within a reasonable time and shall furnish a copy of the record and transcript or any part thereof to any party as he may request. Except when any statute provides otherwise, the agency is authorized to charge not more than its cost for the preparation and furnishing of such record or transcript or any part thereof, or the rate specified in the contract between the agency and a contractor if prepared by a private contractor.
     
  3. Findings of fact shall be based exclusively on the evidence and on matters officially noticed.

 

§ 303. Presiding officer

Except as otherwise provided by statute, the agency, one or more members of the agency, or one or more hearing officers designated and empowered by the agency to conduct hearings shall be presiding officers. Hearings shall be conducted in an impartial manner. Upon the filing in good faith by a party of a timely and sufficient affidavit of personal bias or disqualification of a presiding officer, the agency shall determine the matter as part of the record in the case, and its determination shall be a matter subject to judicial review at the conclusion of the adjudicatory proceeding. Whenever a presiding officer is disqualified or it becomes impractical for him to continue the hearing, another presiding officer may be assigned to continue with the case unless it is shown that substantial prejudice to the party will result therefrom.

 

§ 304. Powers of presiding officers

Except as otherwise provided by statute, presiding officers are authorized to:

  1. Administer oaths and affirmations.
     
  2. Sign and issue subpoenas in the name of the agency, at the request of any party, requiring attendance and giving of testimony by witnesses and the production of books, papers, documents and other evidence and said subpoenas shall be regulated by the civil practice law and rules. Nothing herein contained shall affect the authority of an attorney for a party to issue such subpoenas under the provisions of the civil practice law and rules.
     
  3. Provide for the taking of testimony by deposition.
     
  4. Regulate the course of the hearings, set the time and place for continued hearings, and fix the time for filing of briefs and other documents.
     
  5. Direct the parties to appear and confer to consider the simplification of the issues by consent to the parties.
     
  6. Recommend to the agency that a stay be granted in accordance with section three hundred four, three hundred six or three hundred seven of the military law.

 

§ 305. Disclosure

Each agency having power to conduct adjudicatory proceedings may adopt rules providing for discovery and depositions to the extent and in the manner appropriate to its proceedings.

 

§  306. Evidence

  1. Irrelevant or unduly repetitious evidence or cross-examination may be excluded. Except as otherwise provided by statute, the burden of proof shall be on the party who initiated the proceeding. No decision, determination or order shall be made except upon consideration of the record as a whole or such portion thereof as may be cited by any party to the proceeding and as supported by and in accordance with substantial evidence. Unless otherwise provided by any statute, agencies need not observe the rules of evidence observed by courts, but shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law. Objections to evidentiary offers may be made and shall be noted in the record. Subject to these requirements, an agency may, for the purpose of expediting hearings, and when the interests of parties will not be substantially prejudiced thereby, adopt procedures for the submission of all or part of the evidence in written form. 
     
  2. All evidence, including records and documents in the possession of the agency of which it desires to avail itself, shall be offered and made a part of the record, and all such documentary evidence may be received in the form of copies or excerpts, or by incorporation by reference. In case of incorporation by reference, the materials so incorporated shall be available for examination by the parties before being received in evidence. 
     
  3. A party shall have the right of cross-examination. 
     
  4. Official notice may be taken of all facts of which judicial notice could be taken and of other facts within the specialized knowledge of the agency. When official notice is taken of a material fact not appearing in the evidence in the record and of which judicial notice could not be taken, every party shall be given notice thereof and shall on timely request be afforded an opportunity prior to decision to dispute the fact or its materiality.


§ 307. Decisions, determinations, and orders

  1. A final decision, determination or order adverse to a party in an adjudicatory proceeding shall be in writing or stated in the record and shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law or reasons for the decision, determination or order. Findings of fact, if set forth in statutory language, shall be accompanied by a concise and explicit statement of the underlying facts supporting the findings. If, in accordance with agency rules, a party submitted proposed findings of fact, the decision, determination or order shall include a ruling upon each proposed finding. A copy of the decision, determination or order shall be delivered or mailed forthwith to each party and to his attorney of record. 
  2. Unless required for the disposition of ex parte matters authorized by law, members or employees of an agency assigned to render a decision or to make findings of fact and conclusions of law in an adjudicatory proceeding shall not communicate, directly or indirectly, in connection with any issue of fact, with any person or party, nor, in connection with any issue of law, with any party or his representative, except upon notice an opportunity for all parties to participate. Any such agency member (a) may communicate with other members of the agency, and (b) may have the aid and advice of agency staff other than staff which has been or is engaged in the investigative or prosecuting functions in connection with the case under consideration or factually related case. 

    This subdivision does not apply (a) in determining applications for initial licenses for public utilities or carriers; or (b) to proceedings involving the validity or application of rates, facilities, or practices of public utilities or carriers. 
     
  3. (a) Each agency shall maintain an index by name and subject of all written final decisions, determinations and orders rendered by the agency in adjudicatory proceedings. Such index and the text of any such written final decision, determination or order shall be available for public inspection and copying. Each decision, determination and order shall be indexed within sixty days after having been rendered. 

    (b) An agency may delete from any such index, decision, determination or order any information that, if disclosed, would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under the provisions of subdivision two of section eighty-nine of the public officers law and may also delete at the request of any person all references to trade secrets that, if disclosed, would cause substantial injury to the competitive position of such person. Information which would reveal confidential material protected by federal or state statute, shall be deleted from any such index, decision, determination or order.

Licenses

§ 401. Licenses

  1. When licensing is required by law to be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing, the provisions of this chapter concerning adjudicatory proceedings apply. For purposes of this act, statutes providing an opportunity for hearing shall be deemed to include statutes providing an opportunity to be heard. 
     
  2. When a licensee has made timely and sufficient application for the renewal of a license or a new license with reference to any activity of a continuing nature, the existing license does not expire until the application has been finally determined by the agency, and, in case the application is denied or the terms of the new license limited, until the last day for seeking review of the agency order or a later date fixed by order of the reviewing court, provided that this subdivision shall not affect any valid agency action then in effect summarily suspending such license. 
     
  3. If the agency finds that public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action, and incorporates a finding to that effect in its order, summary suspension of a license may be ordered, effective on the date specified in such order or upon service of a certified copy of such order on the licensee, whichever shall be later, pending proceedings for revocation or other action. These proceedings shall be promptly instituted and determined. 
     
  4. When the hearing seeks the revocation of a license or permit previously granted by the agency, either party shall, upon demand and at least seven days prior to the hearing, disclose the evidence that the party intends to introduce at the hearing, including documentary evidence and identification of witnesses, provided, however, the provisions of this subdivision shall not be deemed to require the disclosure of information or material otherwise protected by law from disclosure, including information and material protected because of privilege or confidentiality. If, after such disclosure, a party determines to rely upon other witnesses or information, the party shall, as soon as practicable, supplement its disclosure by providing the names of such witnesses or the additional documents.

Representation

§ 501. Representation

Any person compelled to appear in person or who voluntarily appears before any agency or representative thereof shall be accorded the right to be accompanied, represented and advised by counsel. In a proceeding before an agency, every party or person shall be accorded the right to appear in person or by or with counsel. Nothing herein shall be construed either to grant or to deny to any person who is not a lawyer the right to appear for or represent others before any agency.