Federal and state administrative agencies, boards, and commissions have the power to make decisions that give or deny benefits, issue licenses, and impose obligations. People who disagree with those decisions and believe that the decisions interfere with their rights may request an administrative hearing. At the hearing, an administrative law judge will review your case and make a ruling as to whether the decisions do impact their rights.
If you are unsatisfied with the administrative law judge’s ruling and feel that you still have been wronged, you make appeal the decision to a court, unless a statute forbids the appeal. Your case will then be heard at an appropriate state or federal court.
Before you can appeal the ruling, you must first exhaust all of the available administrative remedies. This means that if there is any other way the agency can solve your issue, you must try that first. However, there is an exception to the exhaustion requirement. If the exhaustion requirement is waived by the agency, excused by the court, or if your case involves a Constitutional issue, then you will not be required to exhaust all of the alternative remedies before you can appeal the ruling. When you are ready and able to appeal the ruling, you must file a petition for review in the appropriate court.
The court will usually presume that the government agency’s decision was correct. The burden of proof is on you to show that the agency’s decision is invalid because it is unreasonable, unlawful, arbitrary, unsupported, or wrong. The court will use evidence from the administrative record to determine if the administrative agency was acting within its authority, complying with statutes, and not acting arbitrarily. New evidence and witnesses are usually not allowed.
If you can show that the agency acted in violation or unlawfully, the reviewing court may reverse, modify, vacate, or remand the agency’s action. The court can also issue a mandate requiring the agency to issue a certificate, comply with a statute or regulation, or conduct proceedings.
Further judicial review is discretionary. An appeals court may choose not to hear an appeal when a lower court has already reviewed an administrative agency’s decision.
A government lawyer experienced in administrative law can help and advise you in administrative hearings. Additionally, a lawyer will help you with the complicated court system if you choose to appeal an administrative decision.