What is a Hearing?
An administrative hearing is a fair, impartial opportunity to be heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ assigned to hear your case determines facts based on the evidence and argument presented at the hearing. The ALJ reviews the relevant law and issues a written decision. You may appeal this decision.
You have the option to retain an attorney or non-attorney representative when you appear before an ALJ.
A Hearing Presenter will appear on behalf of the Division of Licensing Services to present the case against you. Your hearing is your only opportunity to present facts or evidence in support of your case.
The Office of Administrative Hearings conducts two types of hearings: “Application Hearings,” and “Disciplinary Hearings.”
I. Application Hearings
In an “Application Hearing,” the Division of Licensing Services issues a proposed denial to an Applicant found unqualified for licensure. If your application for licensure is denied, you will be afforded an opportunity to request a hearing to contest the denial. The Office of Administrative Hearings will assign an Administrative Law Judge to the case. You will receive a Notice of Hearing from the Hearing Presenter representing the Division of Licensing Services in the case. You have the burden to prove by substantial evidence that you meet the qualifications for licensure. If you fail to prove that you meet the qualifications for licensure, the ALJ assigned to your case will deny your application for licensure.
To Request A Hearing, Write To:
Division of Licensing Services
Application Audit Unit
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue, 5th Floor
P.O. Box 22001
Albany, NY 12201
II. Disciplinary Hearings
In a “Disciplinary Hearing,” the Division of Licensing Services issues a complaint against a Licensee. The complaint contains allegations that you violated one or more rules of your occupation, and proposes to take disciplinary action against you. Disciplinary action could mean the suspension or revocation of your license, and/or a fine depending on the complaint filed against you.
The Office of Administrative Hearings will schedule a hearing. The Division of Licensing Services must prove its case against you by substantial evidence. You will have an opportunity to defend yourself at the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in the Office of Administrative Hearings.
How Do I Prepare For a Hearing?
Whether you are appearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings for an “Application Hearing” or a “Disciplinary Hearing,” you must prepare carefully for your hearing. This will be your only opportunity to defend yourself or make your case to the Administrative Law Judge.
- Bring all documents necessary to prove your case. This may include business documents, records of criminal proceedings, recommendation letters, or other documents.
- During the COVID-19 Pandemic, hearings may be held “virtually.” The Office of Administrative Hearings will contact you and ask you to complete a Questionnaire so that the tribunal can evaluate whether your hearing can be done on personal electronic devices without your having to appear in person. If your case cannot be handled virtually, you will need to go to the tribunal office address in your Notice of Hearing and observe health and safety precautions as outlined in these instructions in the OAH Mandatory Covid-19 Safety Checklist.
- Request copies of the documents the Division of Licensing Services plans to submit as evidence against you.
- As a courtesy, the Department of State has drafted a sample letter you can use to request disclosure materials.
If the Hearing Presenter sends you a disclosure request, you must provide your evidence to the Department of State before your hearing.
To review the rules and regulations on Evidence, please review the Guide to Statutes and Rules Relating to Hearings and Appeals.
For more information on how you can prepare for a hearing, click here.
Day of the Hearing
Hearings are open to the public. Individuals within a hearing room may include people who are not parties to your particular hearing. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will call your name and hear your case in the order you arrive. At the start of the hearing the ALJ will introduce the case and parties, and then briefly explain the hearing procedure. A court reporter will record the proceedings so that a transcript may be produced.
Ordinarily, the presentation of evidence begins after the ALJ’s introduction. Opening statements are permitted but are rarely presented. Each party may introduce evidence and challenge the evidence presented by the opposing party.
The ALJ will rule on the admissibility of evidence, but is not bound by the strict rules of evidence. Pursuant to State Administrative Procedure Act §306(1), “…Unless otherwise provided by any statute, the Administrative Law Judge need not observe the rules of evidence observed by courts, but shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law.” He or she may include hearsay testimony, and may exclude testimony and other evidence that is irrelevant or repetitious.
Each party may call witnesses and question the opposing party’s witnesses. All witness testimony is taken under oath. Witnesses first answer questions from the party who called them and then may be cross-examined by the opposing party.
For more information please review: Preparing for a Hearing Guide
At the end of the hearing, each party is permitted, but not required, to make a closing statement. In some circumstances, the ALJ may allow for additional documents or a written “brief” to be submitted after a hearing. If the ALJ does not ask for additional documents or briefs, the case is closed at the end of the hearing. If the ALJ asks for additional documents or briefs, a date will be set by which those documents must be received. The case will end on that date, and the ALJ will not consider any documents received after that date. The length of each hearing varies and depends on the issues, evidence and witnesses. Most hearings are completed within a single day.
The ALJ will not issue a decision during the hearing and cannot discuss the potential outcome of your case. The ALJ determines facts based on the evidence and argument presented at the hearing, reviews the relevant law, and issues a decision after the hearing. Copies of the decision will be sent to all parties.
After the Hearing
The decision will contain the judge’s analysis, taking all evidence into consideration, leading to his or her final opinion.
A decision should be completed within 150 days of the date of hearing in disciplinary cases, and 150 days from the date your request for a hearing has been received in application cases. An adjournment granted at your request or by mutual consent of the parties will extend the period of 150 days. If a decision cannot be completed within 150 days, the Secretary of State or an Administrative Law Judge may extend the 150-day period by no more than 120 days. You will be notified of any such extension by mail. Any such extension will include the reason it was issued.
The Administrative Appeal
You may challenge the judge’s decision by filing a request for an appeal within thirty (30) days of receiving a decision. In order to appeal a decision, please submit a written request to:
Secretary of State
Office of Administrative Hearings
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
You must serve the Secretary of State, and the other party or parties with a written statement, explaining why you think the judge’s decision is incorrect or unfair. In this statement, you must also identify the part of the decision that you are appealing and the portions of the record that correspond with the portion of the decision you are challenging. You will receive an acknowledgement letter in the mail confirming receipt of your request for appeal.
For more instruction regarding how to make an appeal, please refer to the Guide to Statutes and Rules Relating to Hearings and Appeals.
Article 78 Proceeding
Pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, an aggrieved party may challenge the final determination of the Secretary of State to deny your application for licensure or disciplinary finding and penalty by bringing a proceeding in the State Supreme Court. For additional guidance it is recommended that you consult with an attorney.