The Texas State Office of Administrative Hearing (SOAH) hears cases against license holders of Texas licensing boards regarding complaints filed against the license holder, violations of board rules, and other alleged misconduct. Essentially, SOAH resolves disputes between Texas licensing boards and regulatory agencies and those that are licensed or otherwise regulated by those boards and agencies.
If your licensing board refers the case against you to SOAH or you appeal a board ruling to SOAH, it is important that you understand what will happen at the hearing. SOAH is to conduct a fair and objective administrative hearing and provide a timely and efficient decision.
What Happens at a SOAH Hearing
An administrative hearing before SOAH is conducted similarly to how a courtroom trial operates. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your defense, produce evidence, and question witnesses.
Hearings are led by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to your case. The ALJ is a neutral presiding officer who will conduct the hearing, review the evidence presented, and listen to the arguments of the parties. Generally, after the hearing the ALJ will write a recommendation for the licensing board, or in some cases the ALJ may issue a final decision.
In general, SOAH Hearings will follow these steps:
- Opening Statements: Your attorney and the attorney for the licensing board are given the opportunity to explain their respective positions in the case and state what they believe they will prove with evidence.
- Presentation of Evidence: Each party will present evidence, such as testimony and documents, to the ALJ in an effort to prove their case or their defense.
- Calling Witnesses: As part of the presentation of evidence, each party may call witnesses to the stand. Witnesses will be sworn in – put under oath, whereby they swear to tell the truth. Witnesses will first answer direct questions from the party who called them, and then may be cross-examined by the other party.
- Exhibits: Each party may offer documents into evidence. To do so, the party must provide a copy of the document to the ALJ, to the other party, and retain a copy for itself. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary that the person who prepared the document testify to its authenticity before it can be admitted into evidence.
- Objections: Any party may object to questions, testimony, or exhibits for legal reasons. The ALJ will either sustain or overrule the objection.
- Closing Arguments: After both parties finish presenting their evidence, then each party has the opportunity to make a closing argument to the ALJ. The closing argument will summarize what the evidence showed and why the ALJ should make a recommendation or rule in that party's favor.
Depending on the subject matter and circumstances of the case, SOAH Administrative Hearings can last anywhere from a few minutes to a week, or longer.
As you can see, SOAH Hearings are complex and require knowledge of procedural rules on how SOAH operates, as well as a clear understanding of the substantive law underlying the complaint against the licensee. As soon as you are notified of a licensing board complaint filed against you, we urge you to contact a professional license defense attorney. With the help of an experienced license defense attorney you may be able to get the case against you dismissed or reach a resolution prior to formal resolution before SOAH.
Hire the Experienced License Defense Attorneys of BERTOLINO LLP
If you have been notified of a complaint filed against you with a licensing board, agency, or commission in Texas, BERTOLINO LLP can help. We are experienced license defense attorneys and we know how to navigate the complaint process against any professional, medical, or vocational license. We are prepared to represent you at any legal hearing or proceeding regarding your license.
With years of combined license defense experience and knowledge, our attorneys thoroughly understand state and federal laws and how they apply to each case. We use this information to custom design the best possible defense for each client we represent.
Our law firm helps professionals, like you, keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a state agency or board.
BERTOLINO LLP represents licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.
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