Agencies are granted the power to adopt, amend, and repeal regulations provided by the constitution or specific statutes. To exercise this power, agencies should follow the procedures outlined in the California Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Whether you are an employee or an employer in a healthcare agency, knowing what the Administrative Procedure Act stipulates can come in handy if you face issues requiring legal action at work.
The Legal Guardian is dedicated to ensuring that healthcare experts are well informed on legal matters affecting them. We also strive to offer the best legal consultations, advice, and representation when necessary. Whether you are a federal agency, private agency, or an individual within the healthcare industry looking to know what the California APA has to offer, we would love to guide you accordingly. We offer a wide range of legal services depending on our clients' needs. We are located in Long Beach in California. Get in touch with us today for more information.
California Administrative Procedure Act
The California Administrative Procedure Act (APA) is an extensive law regulating the making of administrative rules in California. The law was passed in 1946 by the Congress and President Harry Truman to ensure uniformity in procedures of rulemaking in federal administrative agencies.
The Administrative Procedure Act also touches on the issuance of licenses by agencies. The APA gives the judiciary the mandate to review agency decisions and other final rulings. It is found in the Third Division, Part 1, chapter 3.5 of the California Government Code Title 2, titled Administrative Regulations and Rule Making. The APA not only applies to independent agencies but also the executive branch of the federal government.
Contents of the California Administrative Procedure Act
Article 1 - General Provisions
Article 2 - Definitions
Article 3 - Filing and Publication
Article 4 - The California Code of Regulations, the California Code of Regulations Supplement, and the California Regulatory Notice Register
Article 5 - Public Participation: Procedure for Adoption of Regulations Supplement, and the California Regulatory Notice Register
Article 6 - Review of Proposed Regulations
Article 7 - Review of Existing Regulations
Article 8 – Judicial Review
Article 9 – Special Procedures
Purpose of the Administrative Procedure Act
Its primary purpose is to govern the processes by which federal agencies develop and issue rules and regulations. It includes requirements to publish proposed rules and final rules in the Federal Register, providing a chance for the public to make comments on the rulemaking. The final revised rules should then have a 30-days allowance period before they can be implemented. In addition to that, APA addresses the issuance process or revocation of permits, policy statements, and licenses. It also handles standard judicial reviews in situations where the actions of an agency aggrieve a party.
In general, the APA provides guidelines for agencies to follow in administrative procedures. An administrative procedure is a set of formal rules and regulations employed by a private or state organization to oversee its decision-making and management. They ensure accountability of agency actions and decisions hence enhancing legitimacy and fairness.
Administrative Agency Actions Per the California APA
The legislature delegates the rulemaking process to administrative agencies. Agencies create detailed regulations through rulemaking. Administrative agencies make rules and regulations in line with the directives and policies of the government. Rulemaking aims to add industrial and scientific expertise and implementation details, making the rules and regulations better suited for application to an agency. This rulemaking authority is subject to judicial review.
Formal Rulemaking - this rulemaking process requires agencies to conduct recorded procedural hearings, with witness testimonies and evidence presentations, as it is done in a court. This process is employed when an agency needs to issue a rule that involves the rights of an individual or adjudicative facts.
Informal Rulemaking - is also known as notice and comment rulemaking. It does not require the application of formal procedures. However, it still requires agencies to meet the minimum procedural requirements. An agency should follow the following steps when using informal rulemaking.
It should publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register. It should include the legal authority under which the agency proposes the rule, the rule's substance, and the day it is proposed to be effective.
It should provide a thirty to sixty-day comment period so that the public and interested parties can give their views and recommendations.
The final reviewed rule should then be published in the Federal Register 30 days before it is expected to take effect first.
Omissions to These Rules
Types of rules exempted from the rulemaking process outlined in the California Administrative Act are:
Rules published on an emergency basis. Emergency rules apply if there is imminent endangerment of the health, welfare, or safety of the public;
Rules of organization procedure or practice;
Rules concerning public property, donations, loans, contracts or benefits;
Rules regarding agency management or staff;
General statement of policies;
non-significant rules where the agency establishes that public contribution is not merited.
The process by which administrative agencies make verdicts about how the programs and regulations it supervises apply to particular parties in specific cases is called adjudication. Adjudication is supervised by an administrative law judge (ALJ) or a hearing officer. It involves an administrative hearing whose procedures resemble judicial proceedings.
There are formal and informal adjudications, but the APA only covers the formal one. Therefore, it means that an agency has the freedom to take on their preferred informal adjudication procedures for their proceedings. On the other hand, formal adjudications are required by law to be recorded.
The APA stipulates that administrative agencies have the power to oversee an adjudicative proceeding as provided in the judicial procedure. An individual can request a declaratory verdict regarding the reliability of indicated use of a statute, regulation, or decision within the agency's authority. The agency can issue a response at will in response to this application. However, suppose the issuance of the response would considerably violate the rights of a significantly involved party. In that case, he/she fails to consent to resolve the problem by a declaratory decision proceeding. The agency is allowed not to issue the response. The same applies if the matter in question is pending administrative or judicial proceedings.
Agencies that oversee permits and licenses required by the law must follow the same procedure as rulemaking and adjudication when revoking or issuing the permits or licenses. It further states that a license issuing agency cannot revoke a license while a new application is pending. Before a license is revoked, the agency must explain why it is being revoked and give a chance to correct the reason given.
Also, in a situation where a state statute or federal law is relevant to the agency action or a decision that conflicts with the provisions outlined in the APA, then that statute or the federal law prevails above the APA.
The rulemaking and adjudication for agencies are subject to review by the judiciary up to a six-year statutory period, as stated in the APA. It can face judicial review if there are parties or people adversely affected or harmed by a legal wrong from an agency's action. The court must conclude that the action was either arbitrary or capricious, not in line with the law or violation of discretion. There are two criteria of judicial review:
Agency regulations that are against the law or violate discretion are required to be reviewed by a court. It involves a review of the rulemaking process and facts supporting this process; it is typical for informal adjudications or rulemakings. Arbitrary reviews allow agency decisions to stand as long as they provide reasonable information to back up the decision they made at that time.
This criterion is common in cases where formal rulemaking or adjudication was used in making the decision. If there is substantial evidence from the records showing that the agency decisions are adequate and rational, then the agency decisions will be upheld. Consequently, courts are strict under substantial evidence preventing agencies from using too much judicial power to violate the separation of powers.
The court's primary role is to ensure that the agency's rules are under the constitution and within the agency's statutory powers. Even if the rule is found unwise by the court, as long as it is in line with the law, not arbitrary capricious or an abuse of discretion, it will stand.
California Administrative Act Hearing
In California, when an individual or a private party disagrees with an action made by a federal agency, they are allowed to challenge it by asking the agency for an administrative hearing. Administrative hearings are run by administrative law judges and are less formal as compared to courtroom trials. Administrative law judges (ALJs) are neutral judicial officers who conduct hearings and settlement conferences. They should typically have at least five years of experience to be employed as ALJs.
Administrative law judges make judgments centered on well-structured analysis, written verdicts of facts, and conclusions of law. The judgments are subject to a petition to the highest administrative authority agency. Usually, judicial review of formal agency judgment is limited to questions of law.
If you do not win, you can request a right of the mandate, and a superior court can review the hearing as per your request. Some state administrative agencies have their appeals handled by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
The Office of Administrative Hearing is an agency within the Department of General Services. It handles administrative disputes for local and state administrative agencies. OAH is divided into two divisions: the Special Education Division and the General Jurisdiction Division. It works to find an agreeable settlement or alternative dispute resolution services for both parties.
OAH Hearing Procedure under the California APA
When an agency wishes to take disciplinary action on an individual or business as a whole for a wrong done by revoking a license, it will send a statement of issues to the licensee. The agency will provide you with information about which rules you are accused of violating, how you violated the rules, and if the hearing will determine if you lose your license or retain it. They should also provide you with the rules you should have complied with to avoid revoking your license.
In the hearing, you can have an attorney represent you, or you can represent yourself. You should ask for a hearing in writing within fifteen days from receiving the accusation; it is known as a notice of defense.
Witnesses and Evidence:
You and the agency can gather evidence to present during the hearing as well as witnesses. The agency should provide rules to guide you on how the hearing will proceed. You may be required to check them at their local office or their website. Within thirty days, you and the agency can request names and addresses of the known witness. If either party fails to provide access to this information, then the ALJ can be requested to compel them to allow discovery.
After this, either party can file a pre-hearing motion to keep the other party from using specific evidence. The motion filed must be supported by the law and facts, showing that it should be granted; it should be sent in written form fifteen days before the hearing.
Summoning of Witnesses and Presentation of Evidence
The OAH may summon the witnesses or summon specific evidence to be brought in. If documents from the agency are summoned, then the agency should provide them for you to view. On the other hand, if witnesses are summoned, you should pay mileage and witness fees and issue them with the subpoena.
The plaintiff, the respondent, or the ALJ may request a pre-hearing either by telephone, video conference, or in person. In the pre-hearing, the case is presented and may be solved, or alternative ways to resolve the dispute may be employed. The evidence and witnesses available will also be discussed. Both you and the agency should give each other the evidence exhibits and witnesses' list.
If you would like a hearing to be postponed, you should offer a good cause as to why you cannot attend. You are required to file a written motion within ten working days after discovering this good cause. You should also consult with the agency on which days they are not available and notify the ALJ. The motion must include the following unless the ALJ waives these requirements:
It should have the case name and number
It should have all facts supporting that your reason is a good cause for the postponement.
It should include details of the person who wants the hearing to proceed.
It should include future dates where the party requesting the postponement will be available over the following six months and the convenient dates of the other parties.
Time and Location of the Hearing
The OAH, together with the agency, will decide on when the hearing should be held. Typically the hearing is held in the nearest OAH office from the location where the said incident occurred. If there are no OAH offices close by, you or the agency may request location changes to the most convenient location. It should be done ten days from the date the hearing is set. You can also opt to appear by telephone instead of appearing in person; if so, make a request ten days before the hearing.
Disclosure of the ALJ’s Name
it is done to ensure the administrative law judge is not biased. If you so believe, you can disqualify an ALJ for bias. You must explain why you believe that he/she is biased if they are to be disqualified.
Failure to Appear
If either party (you or the agency) fails to file a notice of defense or fails to appear for the hearing, then the OAH makes judgment using evidence provided without your side of defense being considered. However, if you did not get a notice of the hearing or have a reasonable reason as to why you did not show up, you can present it to the ALJ. The hearing will start anew, and any decision previously made in your absence will not take effect.
The hearings are public, but the administrative law judge may make an exception, if there is a good cause, and seal the record or make protective orders. This protective order may be issued to fulfill federal or state law relating to the provision of a fair trial or to protect a witness with a developmental disability. The ALJ records the hearing by video or audio, and they may also request someone to record on their behalf.
During the trial, you and the agency will get chances to present your evidence and witness accounts. All testimonies will be sworn. You will then be allowed to question the evidence and the witnesses and do rebuttal of evidence.
Communicating with the administrative law judge in the absence of the agency or outside the hearing is prohibited. If you try to talk with the ALJ, they must record and notify other parties involved in the hearing. Unlawful ex-parte communication can lead to dismissal of an ALJ.
APA allows prohibited agency decisions to be challenged by the public or the affected party. The APA states that individual suffering as a result of a legal wrong by an agency's decision or adversely affected by agency action or failure to act within the meaning of the applicable statutes is entitled to judicial review. It offers a basis for an individual to claim against the federal agency where the legislature has not provided it in detail anywhere else in the law. It also provides a waiver of autonomous immunity that permits an individual to prosecute the federal government over unlawful agency action for non-monetary damages.
An APA claim is filed in a federal district court. A suit against a federal official acting in his/her ability can be filed to any judicial district where a respondent lives, the actions leading to the claim transpired, or where the claimant resides if there is no actual property involved. An APA claim is a civil action. Consequently, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the district court's local rules are employed.
APA does not have a statute of limitations. However, six years of statute of limitations is employed for civil actions.
When sued, an agency can choose to formulate and issue a decision by settlement avoiding an adjudicative proceeding. If the plaintiff and the defendant agree, the defendant agency can refer the dispute for an arbitration or mediation solution.
The APA provides that an agency can conduct an informal hearing if the use of the informal hearing in the case concerned will not violate the state constitution or any other statute. An informal hearing can be employed if:
The agency is permitted by a regulation to conduct an informal hearing in a proceeding
A hearing to present evidence for determination of facts is not necessary or required by the state's constitution
If the disputed issue is not of material fact
If the monetary amount of the disputed issues is less than $1000
Disciplinary action against a student does not involve suspension or expulsion from an educational institution for more than ten days
Disciplinary action against an employee that does not entail discharge from employment, demotion or suspension exceeding five days
Disciplinary action against a professional practitioner does not entail revising a license or suspension of a license for more than five days
Importance of an Attorney in an Administrative Hearing
There is the option to represent yourself during an administrative hearing, but you may miss a good chance of fighting for your rights. Many people who represent themselves are not well aware of their rights in such a situation; hence they often do not get the deserved benefits. Equipping yourself with an experienced lawyer will give you an upper hand than when you represent yourself. Your attorney will help ensure you are well informed and represented when:
You are filing for defense after receiving the statement of issues
You are gathering evidence and getting witnesses
Your attorney will represent you through the pre-hearing procedures
Your attorney will represent you during the hearing and thoroughly analyze the evidence against you, and question the witnesses on your behalf
Find an Administrative Hearing Attorney Near Me
The administrative procedure act can prove challenging to comprehend without the assistance of an experienced attorney. The Legal Guardian will provide you with professional and experienced attorneys to guide you through your entire case. Reach out to us for a consultation about the California Administrative Procedure Act or representation in an administrative hearing. We are located in Long Beach, California. For more information, contact us at 888-293-0396.