New Jersey Administrative Law

Many people are unaware that there is an entirely separate dispute resolution system established by the New Jersey State legislature under the auspices of the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (OAL). While the OAL is part of the Executive Branch, it has jurisdiction to hear disputes arising from numerous state agencies and state regulatory matters under the New Jersey Administrative Code.

The OAL itself is an independent state agency. The system provides a dispute resolution system that is litigated within the OAL and determined by full-time Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) who are appointed by the Governor. The New Jersey Administrative Code establishes the procedures to create a neutral forum where disputes may be resolved by the parties. N.J.A.C. 1:1-1.

When actions are taken by an agency that result in disputed claims, if the regulations provide, a hearing request may be sent to the agency, the matter is determined to qualify as a contested case, and the matter may be transferred to the OAL for docketing and assignment to an ALJ for resolution.

While it is an administrative hearing presided over by an ALJ, the rules of evidence are relaxed, and the system is slightly more informal than proceedings before Superior Court Judges. Similar to the civil court system, discovery is exchanged (N.J.A.C. 1:1-10.1 through -10.6), subpoenas may be issued to compel the production of information, (N.J.A.C. 1:1-11 through -11.5), and legal or discovery disputes may be resolved by way of motion practice. (N.J.A.C. 1:1-12.1 through -12.7).

Contested cases are conducted as a bench hearing, meaning without a jury. The ALJ sits as a finder of both the facts and the law. At the conclusion of a hearing, the ALJ makes factual findings and decides that matter. The parties may then file exceptions to the ALJ’s decision (N.J.A.C. 1:1-18.4). The matter is then forwarded to the head of the state agency where the ALJ’s decision may be affirmed, reversed, or modified by the agency head.

The final decision of the agency may be appealed to the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. If the agency does not issue a determination on the ALJ’s initial decision within 45 days, the ALJ’s decision may then be appealed directly to the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court. In special education matters, the ALJ’s decision is the final decision from which an appeal may be taken (N.J.A.C. 1:1-18.6).

The types of cases typically heard by the OAL include but are not limited to:

  • Appeals from civil service matters, discipline including suspensions, removals, removal from eligibility lists, etc.
  • Appeals from pension forfeitures.
  • Appeals from actions on professional licensing.
  • Actions by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, including prevailing wage cases and some actions relating to public contracting.
  • Special education matters.

The OAL has jurisdiction over a wide variety of other kinds of administrative matters. Cases that are not heard by the OAL include tax appeals, parole matters, Workers’ Compensation, and unemployment compensation cases.

Lyons & Associates, P.C. and Eric Marcy, Esq., who chairs the Administrative Law practice at the firm, have experience with a variety of administrative law matters, including professional licensing matters, police and municipal employee civil service matters, pension forfeitures, removal of candidates from civil service eligibility lists, public contractor, and prevailing wage cases. Mr. Marcy is an approved attorney under the PBA Legal Protection Plan program available to members of the New Jersey State PBA. Call 908-575-9777 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. We have offices in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout the state, including but not limited to Somerset County, Morris County, Middlesex County, Union County, Essex County, Bergen County, Hunterdon County, Warren County, Sussex County, Passaic County, and Monmouth County.