In California, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is a quasi-judicial tribunal that hears administrative disputes to include all professional license discipline or denial cases, except for liquor license and attorney discipline hearings. The same administrative court hears cases for such varied occupations as physicians, architects, dentists, insurance brokers and engineers. Administrative licensing agencies such as the Medical Board of California, the Dental Board of California and the Department of Insurance delegate the job of hearing disciplinary hearings to these judges, while retaining final decision-making authority.
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California Administrative Hearing
A California administrative hearing is conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) which is a quasi-judicial tribunal that hears administrative disputes. OAH is divided into two, statewide divisions: General Jurisdiction Division and the Special Education Division.
When a licensing agency issues an accusation (the start of a formal disciplinary case) or a statement of issues (a formal license denial case), and the licensee has requested a hearing, the case is typically filed with OAH for adjudication. Once OAH receives the filing, it assumes jurisdiction over the case which continues until the case is settled, the accusation is withdrawn, or a panel judge issues a proposed decision.
OAH is different than any other court in that OAH is a state agency that other state agencies hire to hear their cases. An administrative law judge produces “proposed decisions” that can be adopted, changed or rejected then decided differently by licensing agencies. Although a very high percentage of proposed decisions are adopted as written, occasionally a decision is rewritten or even decided differently by the agency.
A licensee or license applicant can ask an agency to reconsider its decision before the decision becomes final. Appeals of administrative decisions are filed in the Superior Court with a petition for writ of administrative mandamus. All licensing agencies make provisions for license reinstatement. Almost all revoked licenses can eventually be restored upon a showing of rehabilitation.
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