State Office of Administrative Hearings
State Office of Administrative Hearings
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Before the Hearing

Before the Hearing Questions

How will I know if my case has been sent to SOAH?

The referring agency should notify you that your case is being referred to SOAH.  In addition, you will receive a formal, written notice of hearing from the referring agency.

What is a notice of hearing?

After the referring agency has referred the case to SOAH, you or your attorney will receive a written notice of hearing that will set out the date, time, place, and subject matter of your hearing.  You should receive the notice of hearing at least ten days before the hearing.

What should I do if I cannot attend the hearing on the day scheduled?

You or your attorney should file with SOAH a written motion for continuance, which is a request for the hearing to be rescheduled, stating why you cannot attend the hearing on the day scheduled and asking for the hearing to be rescheduled to another date.  You must file the motion at least five days before the hearing unless there is a good reason for a later request, and you must send a copy to the other party.  The motion must specify a proposed date or dates to which the hearing should be reset, indicate that you have contacted or attempted to contact the other party about your request, and state whether the other party objects to the continuance.  A continuance request may be denied for failure to provide this information. See 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.305(b) external web site.  The other party has a right to respond to your motion.  The ALJ will rule on your motion in a written order that will be sent to you or, if you are represented by counsel, your attorney.  The ALJ has the discretion to grant or deny your motion. In addition, the ALJ will not call the other party to determine whether it agrees to the continuance.  If your motion for continuance does not indicate that you have contacted the other party, a ruling on your motion will be delayed until the ALJ receives a response from the other party.

Who should I send my motion to?

Your motion should be filed with SOAH, and a copy of the motion must also be sent to the other party.  See 1 Tex. Admin. Code § 155.305(b) external web siteA copy of any document or motion you file must be sent to the ALJ and also to every other party in your case.

I sent in a motion for continuance, and I haven’t heard anything.  Must I still attend the hearing?

If you filed a motion for continuance (a request for the rescheduling of a hearing) and you haven’t received an order from the ALJ, you should assume your motion has not been granted and you should be prepared to attend the hearing.  You may call the ALJ’s assistant (but not the ALJ) to check on the status of your motion.

Do I have the right to ask for information about my case held by the other parties?

Yes.  In most cases, the Administrative Procedure Act external web site, the law creating SOAH, and SOAH’s rules allow a party to prepare for hearing by "discovering" relevant information from the other party.  You have the right to make discovery requests from the other parties at any time after your case is referred to SOAH but before the hearing begins.  SOAH’s procedural rule at 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.251 external web site discusses the types of discovery permitted and sets out general discovery procedures.  The ALJ presiding in your case has the authority to enter particular orders governing discovery as may be required by the circumstances of the case.

I want to make sure a witness appears at my administrative hearing.  How can I do that?

In order to compel a witness to appear, a subpoena for his/her appearance must be issued.  A subpoena is an order that requires a witness to appear and testify or to produce books, records, and other information at the hearing.  In most cases, SOAH does not issue subpoenas.  If you would like to subpoena a witness, you must direct your request for a subpoena to the referring agency.  See 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.251(f) external web site.

Witnesses may also appear at the request of parties, but a request does not assure their appearance.

SOAH does issue subpoenas in administrative license revocation cases.
See
1 Tex. Admin. Code §159.103 external web site for the procedure to be followed.

How should I prepare for the hearing?

Be as prepared as you can for the hearing.  Make sure you know all of the facts about your situation and have with you the necessary documents or other information you believe are relevant.  If you have an attorney, he or she will most likely help you prepare.  If you do not have an attorney, become familiar with SOAH’s procedural rules at 1 Tex. Admin. Code ch. 155 external web site so that you can meet deadlines and otherwise be as prepared as possible to present your case.  The rules can be found on SOAH’s website at www.soah.state.tx.us.  external web site You should also familiarize yourself with the statutes and rules governing the agency with whom you have the dispute.  Those should be set out in the notice of hearing.

May I call an ALJ to discuss my case?

No.  The Administrative Procedure Act external web site does not allow communication about the case between the ALJ and any party outside the hearing or other proceeding, such as a prehearing conference, without the presence of all parties to the case.

Where will my hearing be held?

Most hearings are held at the Clements Building located at 300 West 15th Street in downtown Austin, Texas.  The Clements Building is located on the north side of 15th Street between Guadalupe and Lavaca Streets.  SOAH’s hearing rooms are on the fourth floor of the building. Click this map for a layout of the hearing rooms. Go to Suite 408 to locate your hearing’s room assignment.

SOAH has field offices located in other cities throughout Texas that are used primarily for administrative license revocation hearings.  A list of SOAH’s field offices and directions to the offices is posted on SOAH’s website.  The notice of hearing you receive will tell you the location of the hearing.

Where should I park?

There are several pay parking garages near the Clements Building, including one on Guadalupe Street across the street from the building.  There are also pay surface lots, metered parking spaces, and a few unmetered parallel parking spaces at various locations around the building.  There is no visitor parking in the parking building adjacent to the Clements Building.  If your hearing is in one of the field offices or other location, you should check with the particular field office to determine parking accommodations.

Must I present identification to enter the Clements Building?

Yes.  You must present a government-issued form of identification and sign in with the security officer in the lobby of the Clements Building.  It is helpful to know your SOAH docket number and the name of the case when you sign in.  After you sign in, the officer will give you a visitor’s badge, and you will be allowed to use the elevator.

I am unable to come to Austin for my hearing.  Are there any alternatives?

You may file with SOAH a motion to appear by telephone, stating the reason why you want to appear by telephone, the telephone number where you can be reached, and that you will be the person testifying by telephone at the hearing.  A copy of your motion to appear by telephone must also be sent to the other party in the case.  SOAH’s procedural rule 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.405(a) external web site governs motions to appear by telephone.

You may also file with SOAH a motion to appear by videoconference.  Videoconference motions are governed by 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.405(b) external web site.  Your motion must state the reason for your request and the city of your residence.  In deciding whether to grant your motion, the ALJ will consider the relevant factors, including the availability of videoconferencing facilities.

You may also file motions to appear by telephone or by videoconference for a witness.

I sent a motion to participate by telephone, but I haven’t heard if the motion has been granted.  What should I do?

Under SOAH’s rule, a timely motion to appear by telephone that is not opposed will be deemed granted without the ALJ issuing an order.  See 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.405(a) external web site.  If you haven’t received an order, it means that your motion was granted, and you may appear at the hearing by telephone.  If the ALJ denies your motion, you will receive a written order so that you will know in advance that your motion has not been granted.

I am appearing by telephone at my hearing.  How do I introduce documents at the hearing?

Any documents that you wish to use as evidence at the hearing must be filed with SOAH at least three days in advance of the hearing and served on all of the parties.  See 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.405(e) external web site.  If you fail to timely file the documents, a hearing on your case may be delayed until you comply with the rule.

May I ask for my hearing to be held somewhere other than Austin?

You may file a motion for change of venue if you would like to request that your hearing be held somewhere other than Austin.  The ALJ will consider a number of factors in deciding whether to grant your motion, including legislative restrictions on travel, the amount in controversy, the estimated length of the hearing, the availability of facilities, costs to and preferences of the parties, and the location of witnesses.  See 1 Tex. Admin. Code §155.403 external web site.