September 6, 2022 – Referring agencies are reminded that hearing dates for most general docket hearings are now being set and confirmed by order of the presiding administrative law judge (ALJ). This change was previously announced on July 26, 2022.
This practice recognizes the ALJ’s authority over hearing and prehearing matters and makes the scheduling of cases more similar to district court. The change is necessary to promote efficiency, assure the fair and equal treatment of parties, and minimize disruptions associated with ALJs having to reschedule cases after the initial docketing of a case.
This is a change from the prior practice where hearing dates were often confirmed by the SOAH Chief Clerk’s Office during the initial referral of a case, regardless of whether an ALJ was actually available on the date requested by the referring agency.
Here’s how it works:
- Referring agencies will continue to docket cases by filing a SOAH Request to Docket Form together with supporting documentation as required by SOAH Rule 155.53. The form provides the option to request three possible dates or a range of dates.
- The Chief Clerk’s Office will acknowledge acceptance of the referral documentation, triggering SOAH’s jurisdiction over the case. Once accepted for filing, the ACTS system then automatically cues the case for assignment to an ALJ.
- The assigned ALJ will take any requested dates into consideration when scheduling the hearing, but the requested dates do not necessarily determine the actual date of hearing.
The ALJ will issue Order No. 1 (within approximately 7-10 days of assignment), which will usually schedule the date and time of the hearing.
Agencies are advised to wait to issue their Notice of Hearing until after the ALJ has confirmed the availability of the scheduled hearing date.
This change does not affect emergency proceedings or regularly scheduled docket calls. For emergency proceedings, agencies are encouraged to always call the SOAH Chief Clerk’s Office prior to docketing the case to inquire about the availability and assignment of an ALJ in advance.