Administrative Law

Every day federal, state and local government agencies and actors take action and make decisions that impact the substantial interests of businesses and individuals alike. These decisions can impact a company’s or person’s livelihood and their economic well-being. Because government actions are not subject to regular judicial oversight, but are instead quasi-judicial in nature, the process for contesting them is set apart from the normal judicial route a civil court action may take.

The Minnesota Legislature grants affected individuals and businesses a right to challenge the actions of their government. These matters, called “contested case proceedings,” that result from a government agency’s decision, can be challenged by way of the Minnesota Administrative Procedure Act (the “APA”). The APA provides oversight of powers and duties delegated to administrative agencies, increases an agency’s public accountability, and ensures that a uniform minimum procedure is available to the public in navigating this quasi-judicial process.

Unlike civil and criminal court cases, contested case proceedings are not decided by juries but are held before administrative law judges (“ALJs”). ALJs are learned in the law and must be free of any political or economic association that would impair their ability to function in a fair and impartial manner. They receive evidence and determine questions of law just as any other judicial court judge would, and strive to render justice based on the facts and law presented to them. A few of the most common type of cases ALJs determine relate to utility regulation, fair campaign practices, data practices, special education services, municipal boundary adjustments, regulated health care facilities, and a variety of state licensing disputes including those related to child care or foster care, professional licenses of nurses, doctors, realtors, securities dealers, and other licensed professions.

The ALJ’s role is to make a report on each proposed agency, stating findings of fact and conclusions and recommendations, ultimately taking notice of the degree to which the agency has (i) documented its statutory authority to take the proposed action, (ii) fulfilled all relevant and procedure requirements of law or rule, and (iii) in rulemaking proceedings, demonstrated the need for and reasonableness of its proposed action with an affirmative presentation of facts.

In most cases, a decision rendered by an ALJ is a recommendation to the agency on how the ALJ believes the agency should rule on the issues and evidence received during the contested case hearing. Once the ALJ has issued his or her recommendation, the parties have an opportunity to file what are called “exceptions” to the findings. The exceptions are the parties’ final opportunity to argue their positions and the agency will take them into consideration when rendering the final decision. Ultimately, the agency will render a final decision on the issues raised by the parties.

Just like in any legal matter, it is recommended that you retain counsel to provide the best advocacy for your position and interests. Administrative law is no different. We at the Gabriel Law Office can help you navigate the waters of the administrative process and assist you in working with administrative agencies to reach a favorable resolution.

Gabriel Law Office, PLLC

Suite 114
Riverwood Place
880 Sibley Memorial Highway
Mendota Heights, Minnesota 55118-1736

Telephone: (651) 554-9159
Facsimile: (651) 554-0344

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