OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


Authorized by the General Assembly in 1989, the Office of Administrative Hearings began operations in January 1990 (Chapter 788, Acts of 1989). The Office provides an impartial hearing process for contested cases involving State agencies (except those exempted by law) that regulate certain actions of businesses and citizens. Maryland is one of twenty-seven states with a centralized office established for administrative adjudication.

A citizen who disagrees with an action taken by a State administrative agency may appear before an administrative law judge to obtain an impartial review. Administrative law judges are independent of the government agency whose action is being contested. Appointed by the Chief Administrative Law Judge to conduct administrative hearings, they are attorneys who are members in good standing of the Maryland Bar and have practiced law for at least five years. Though based in the Baltimore area, the judges hear cases statewide at branch offices in Cumberland, Hunt Valley, Kensington, and Salisbury, as well as other locations throughout Maryland.

During Fiscal Year 2018, the Office heard 38,597 cases for State agencies. The majority of these cases related to the Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Department of Human Services.

Since July 2010, the Office of Administrative Hearings has overseen a mediation process for homeowners facing foreclosure on owner-occupied residential property in Maryland. If a borrower requests mediation from the Circuit Court, an Administrative Law Judge meets with the mortgager and the lender to find agreement on an alternative to forclosure (Chapter 485, Acts of 2010; Code Housing & Community Development Article, sec. 4-507; Code Real Property Article, sec. 7-105.1).

Since January 30, 2020, the Office of Administrative Hearings became responsible for functions formerly assigned to the Handgun Permit Review Board (Chapters 2 & 4 Acts of 2020). Any person whose application for a handgun permit, or renewal of a permit, has been rejected or whose permit has been revoked, or limited, can ask the Office to review the decision of the Secretary of State Police. The Office either can sustain, reverse, or modify the decision of the Secretary, or conduct a hearing to establish facts.

The Office is headed by the Chief Administrative Law Judge, who is appointed to a six-year term by the Governor with Senate advice and consent (Code State Government Article, secs. 9-1601 through 9-1610).


FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION

In 1990, Finance and Administration began as Administration. In 1997, it reorganized as Management and Administration and resumed its previous name in 2005. It assumed its present name in 2016.

Finance and Administration administers finance, procurement, and other administrative functions. It prepares and executes the agency's budget, pays invoices, accounts for expenditures of the agency, and procures goods and services (except for those concerned with information technology). In addition, it oversees human resources, fleet management, timekeeping, and payroll.


OPERATIONS

Operations was formed in 1990.

To ensure expeditious case management, Operations schedules and assigns cases to administrative law judges, reviews their caseloads to prevent backlogs, and monitors the timeliness of decisions. For the Office of Administrative Hearings, Operations responds to Public Information Act requests and monitors legislation during the General Assembly session.

Under Operations are the Records Management program and two units: Chief Clerk, and Information Technology Services.


QUALITY ASSURANCE

Quality Assurance started in 1990.

To ensure that the judicial work of the Office of Administrative Hearings conforms to professional standards, meets statutory and regulatory requirements, and will withstand judicial scrutiny, Quality Assurance assists Administrative Law Judges with legal research and analysis, and reviews written decisions before their release. The office also trains new judges and offers mandatory judicial education for judges and legal staff.

Quality Assurance oversees the Office's library and maintains bench manuals of various case types, as well as up-to-date Case Digests.

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