§ 50-13-41. Hearing procedures; powers of administrative law judge; issuance of decision; reviewing agency; review of contested cases.

CODE OF GEORGIA

Title 50. STATE GOVERNMENT

Chapter 13. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE

Article 2. OFFICE OF STATE ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

Current through 2019-2020 Chapter 609

§ 50-13-41. Hearing procedures; powers of administrative law judge; issuance of decision; reviewing agency; review of contested cases

(a)
(1) Whenever a state agency authorized by law to determine contested cases initiates or receives a request for a hearing in a contested case which is not presided over by the agency head or board or body which is the ultimate decision maker, the hearing shall be conducted by the Office of State Administrative Hearings, and such hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and the rules and regulations promulgated under this article. Whenever an agency under this paragraph receives a request for a hearing in a contested case, such agency shall forward such request for a hearing to the Office of State Administrative Hearings within a reasonable period of time not to exceed 30 days after receipt of such request, and if the agency fails to do so, the party requesting the hearing may petition the Office of State Administrative Hearings for an order permitting such party to file a request for a hearing directly with the Office of State Administrative Hearings.
(2) An administrative law judge shall have the power to do all things specified in paragraph (6) of subsection (a) of Code Section 50-13-13. An administrative law judge shall have the power to impose civil penalties pursuant to paragraph (3) of this subsection for failing to obey any lawful process or order of the administrative law judge or any rule or regulation promulgated under this article, for any indecorous or improper conduct committed in the presence of the administrative law judge, or for submitting pleadings or papers for an improper purpose or containing frivolous arguments or arguments that have no evidentiary support. The superior court of the county in which the violation is committed shall, on application of the administrative law judge or any party, enforce by proper proceedings any lawful process or order for civil penalties of the administrative law judge.
(3) An administrative law judge may impose a civil penalty for any violation provided for in paragraph (2) of this subsection of not less than $100.00 nor more than $1,000.00 per violation. Any violator who is assessed a civil penalty may also be assessed the cost of collection. The administrative law judge shall have the power to issue writs of fieri facias to collect such penalties and costs assessed, which shall be enforced in the same manner as a similar writ issued by a superior court. All penalties and costs assessed shall be tendered and made payable to the Office of State Administrative Hearings and shall be deposited in the general fund of the state treasury.
(b) An administrative law judge shall have all the powers of the ultimate decision maker in the agency with respect to a contested case. Article 2 of Chapter 13 of Title 24 shall govern the issuance of subpoenas issued under this article, except that the administrative law judge shall carry out the functions of the court, and the clerk of the Office of State Administrative Hearings shall carry out the functions of the clerk of the court. Subpoenas shall be enforced pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section. Nothing in this article shall affect, alter, or change the ability of the parties to reach informal disposition of a contested case in accordance with paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of Code Section 50-13-13.
(c) Within 30 days after the close of the record, an administrative law judge shall issue a decision to all parties in the case except when it is determined that the complexity of the issues and the length of the record require an extension of this period and an order is issued by an administrative law judge so providing. Every decision of an administrative law judge shall contain findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a disposition of the case. Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section, every decision of an administrative law judge shall be a final decision as set forth in subsection (b) of Code Section 50-13-17. Code Section 50-13-20.1 shall govern judicial review of every final decision of an administrative law judge, except that any aggrieved party, including the agency, may seek judicial review.
(d)
(1) As used in this subsection, the term 'reviewing agency' shall mean the ultimate decision maker in a contested case that is a constitutional board or commission; an elected constitutional officer in the executive branch of this state; or a board, bureau, commission, or other agency of the executive branch of this state created for the purpose of licensing or otherwise regulating or controlling any profession, business or trade if members thereof are appointed by the Governor; the Department of Transportation; or the Department of Human Services in a contested case where such department is required to be the ultimate decision maker by federal law or regulations governing Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the federal Social Security Act.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this article, in all contested cases referred by a reviewing agency, every decision of an administrative law judge shall be treated as an initial decision as set forth in subsection (a) of Code Section 50-13-17, including, but not limited to, the taking of additional testimony or remanding the case to the administrative law judge for such purpose. On review, the reviewing agency shall consider the whole record or such portions of it as may be cited by the parties. In reviewing initial decisions by the Office of State Administrative Hearings, the reviewing agency shall give due regard to the administrative law judge's opportunity to observe witnesses. If the reviewing agency rejects or modifies a proposed finding of fact or a proposed decision, it shall give reasons for doing so in writing in the form of findings of fact and conclusions of law.
(3) A reviewing agency shall have a period of 30 days following the entry of the decision of the administrative law judge in which to reject or modify such decision. If a reviewing agency fails to reject or modify the decision of the administrative law judge within such 30 day period, then the decision of the administrative law judge shall stand affirmed by the reviewing agency by operation of law.
(4) A reviewing agency may, prior to the expiration of the review period provided for in paragraph (3) of this subsection, extend such review period by order of the reviewing agency in any case wherein unusual and compelling circumstances render it impracticable for the reviewing agency to complete its review within such period. Any such order shall recite with particularity the circumstances which render it impracticable for the reviewing agency to complete its review within such review period. Any such extension by the reviewing agency shall not exceed 30 days. Prior to the expiration of the extended review period, the review period may be further extended by further order of the reviewing agency for one additional period not to exceed 30 days if unusual and compelling circumstances render it impracticable to complete the review within the extended review period. Such further order further extending the review period shall likewise recite with particularity the circumstances which render it impracticable for the reviewing agency to complete its review within the review period as previously extended. If a reviewing agency fails to reject or modify the decision of the administrative law judge within the extended review period, then the decision of the administrative law judge shall stand affirmed by the reviewing agency by operation of law.
(5) An agency may provide by rule that proposed decisions in all or in specified classes of cases before the Office of State Administrative Hearings will become final without further agency action and without expiration of the 30 day review period otherwise provided for in this subsection.

Cite as OCGA § 50-13-41

History. Amended by 2020 Ga. Laws 521, §50, eff. 7/29/2020.

Amended by 2020 Ga. Laws 507, §9, eff. 7/29/2020.

Amended by 2019 Ga. Laws 321, §50, eff. 5/12/2019.

Amended by 2019 Ga. Laws 278, §11, eff. 5/7/2019.

Amended by 2018 Ga. Laws 454, §3, eff. 5/8/2018.