The Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) acts as a neutral legal forum for many boards and agencies across the state. Licensed professionals fighting against licensure complaints may participate in an administrative hearing before the SOAH if informal resolution processes fail.
Administrative hearings before the SOAH are formal. Professionals should treat these proceedings as they would any other court matter. Use these tips to prepare for a license-related hearing with the SOAH:
Watch a hearing first.
The SOAH allows individuals to sit in on any non-confidential hearing. Check the latest docket online through the SOAH website and find out information about the time, location, the type of case, and the presiding administrative law judge (ALJ). Consider watching the judge assigned to your case to learn more about hearing procedures and the judge’s personality.
Review board specific and SOAH specific rules.
Two types of rules govern SOAH proceedings: procedural and substantive. The SOAH enforces procedural rules like other court systems in the state. 1 Texas Administrative Code chapter 155 specifically applies to all SOAH proceedings.
The SOAH also enforces substantive rules arising from applicable state statutes (e.g. the Medical Practice Act) and board/agency specific rules. Substantive rules play a crucial role in how the ALJ interprets the facts of the case. If you do not retain the services of an attorney, you may want to acquaint yourself with all of the procedural and substantive rules that will apply at your hearing.
Prepare for your role in the hearing.
SOAH proceedings work similarly to other court cases. Both sides will give opening and closing statements, present evidence, call witnesses, and enter exhibits into evidence. Make notes, practice your testimony, and (if applicable) work with your attorney to practice speaking. Ask and answer difficult questions based on the evidence to avoid surprises during the hearing.
Recognize the possible outcomes of the hearing.
The ALJ assigned to the case will either hand out a verdict or file a proposal for decision to the agency or board overseeing the complaint. A proposal for decision may or may not result in a finalized resolution. Both parties involved may file exceptions to the proposal before reaching a final decision. Then, an individual can appeal the final decision or order in certain cases. Prepare contingencies for many different outcomes to reduce the risk of a surprise.
Retain an experienced SOAH attorney.
The SOAH does not require individuals to hire Texas license defense attorneys for administrative hearings, but many professionals do. An experienced lawyer can guide you through this complex process, eliminating the stress associated with pre-hearing preparation. Your attorney will focus on the law and procedures associated with the case while you focus on your testimony and future career.
Partner with Bertolino LLP to protect your license and receive support throughout every hearing, conference, and proceeding. We represent professional licensees throughout Texas. Contact us online, or dial (512) 717-5432 for a case evaluation.
BERTOLINO LLP proudly represents licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. To best serve our clients we have offices in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.