The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) is an agency within the Executive Branch of State Government. It is quasi-judicial in nature and independent of other State agencies. It’s Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) hear cases of individuals and other entities that appeal a determination made, with few exceptions, by another State agency.
The ALJ takes the evidence provided by the parties and otherwise conducts the hearing pursuant to the procedures set out in the OAL’s rules. After a case concludes, the ALJ renders in almost all cases, a recommended initial decision that is then transmitted to the agency head from whence the matter emanated. The agency head reviews the recommended decision and can then accept, modify, or reject the ALJ’s decision. The agency head’s decision-making process is also governed by administrative procedure rules. Ultimately, the agency issues a Final Agency Decision (FAD).
The OAL’s role in rendering recommended initial decisions is critically important. It is the decision that incorporates the facts as they were established during the OAL hearing. With very few exceptions, the ALJ’s finding of facts will not be disturbed. If after the FAD is issued and the party wishes to appeal, the forum to which the party must appeal is the appellate division of the New Jersey Superior Court. The appellate division will review the matter in the context of errors of law.
The Chiacchio Law Firm has litigated numerous cases in the OAL. The firm has had much success in winning matters heard in the OAL. Moreover, where an ALJ has issued a recommended initial decision, the firm has successfully argued to the agency head to accept, modify, or reject the FAD.
The Chiacchio Law Firm has also served as a surrogate writer for the New Jersey Division of Family Development and, under the direction, supervision, and review of the agency head or designee, analyzed a large number of recommended initial decisions rendered by ALJs across the State of New Jersey as those decisions pertained to “Work First New Jersey.” After the analysis, our law firm wrote the recommended FAD to be signed and issued by the agency head.