Brooklyn Bar CLE helps lawyers navigate City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings
The Brooklyn Bar Association, in partnership with The Administrative Judicial Institute (AJI) at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), recently hosted a CLE-accredited program titled “Adjudicating Cases at OATH, the City’s Independent Administrative Law Court.”
The virtual event, which took place on Tuesday provided 1.5 CLE credits (transitional and non-transitional) to participants.
The program featured presentations by OATH’s Chief Judge and Commissioner Asim Rehman, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Clerk Maria Marchiano, Deputy Commissioner for the Hearings Division Amy Slifka, and Deputy Commissioner for Appeals Peter Schulman.
“The goal is to give you an overview of OATH and then, of course, we will focus on our hardworking Hearings Division,” said Hon. Raymond Kramer is the Director of the Administrative Judicial Institute at OATH.
“Knowing that we have had such a tremendous response for registration for this program means that there are so many lawyers that appear in front of OATH and want to become familiar with it shows that this is a topic important to our members,” said BBA President Richard Klass.
Over 200 attorneys attended the one-and-a-half-hour CLE live. It offered an overview of OATH as the City’s independent administrative law court, reviewed key Hearings Division procedural rules, and discussed the appeals process, with examples drawn from appeals of Department of Buildings-issued summonses adjudicated at OATH.
“In 2022 alone, we processed almost 500,000 summons, we held over 650 trials, and in each case we took great care to ensure that everyone who appears before us is treated impartially and according to due process,” said Asim Rehman. “We like to say that OATH’s staff is New York’s fairest.”
Commissioner Asim Rehman, appointed OATH Commissioner & Chief Administrative Law Judge in March 2022, brought over two decades of legal, management, and oversight experience from both the public and private sector.
Maria Marchiano, the first Chief Clerk at OATH, held various positions at OATH and had a background as Managing Attorney at the law firm of Hall & Hall in Staten Island. Amy Slifka, Deputy Commissioner of the OATH Hearings Division, focused on implementing best practices for the Hearings Division and developing strategies to enhance operational and adjudicatory efficiency. Peter Schulman, Deputy Commissioner for the Appeals Division, joined OATH in August 2007 and served in various roles, including as a law clerk in the OATH Tribunal and Assistant General Counsel.
Each speaker shared their professional experiences and insights, guiding attendees through the complexities of OATH’s procedures and operations. In addition to the presentations, the event included a review of case studies and resources for researching precedents via Citylaw.
Cases at OATH are heard by ALJs, or Administrative Law Judges, who are appointed to five-year terms. Those are legally trained professionals who preside over administrative hearings and adjudicate disputes between government agencies and individuals, businesses, or other entities.
ALJs function independently from the agencies that bring the cases before them, ensuring impartiality and fairness in the decision-making process. Their responsibilities include conducting hearings, evaluating evidence, making legal determinations and issuing rulings or decisions.
Hearing officers are responsible for conducting the hearing, overseeing the presentation of evidence, ensuring that proper procedures are followed and making a determination in the case based on the facts and the applicable law. Hearing officers typically handle less complex cases, such as minor violations of city laws, rules, and regulations.
OATH adjudicates a wide variety of cases, primarily involving violations of city laws, rules and regulations. OATH hears cases involving individuals, businesses, and other entities that have been issued summonses or notices of violation by various city agencies. Common cases include sanitation and health code violations, building and construction code violations, fire code violations, and many others.
Individuals, business owners, and representatives of other entities who have been issued summonses or notices of violation by a city agency should expect to appear in an OATH court. During the hearing, they will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments in their defense, and the ALJ will issue a decision based on the facts and applicable law.
Commissioner Rehman encouraged attorneys to get involved with OATH by becoming a hearing officer or by volunteering as a pro bono attorney.
“You don’t need to hire an attorney for an OATH hearing, but we’re realistic that some cases are complex and a person may want to hire an attorney,” Rehman said. “We have a pro bono program that connects volunteer attorneys to low-income residents who appear before OATH. This is usually when a person wants to contest a summons from the DOB and the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) violations.”
The BBA’s next CLE will be held on Tuesday, May 2 at 6 p.m., titled “What Every Judge and Lawyer Needs to Know About Language Access and Working with Court Interpreters.” That program will aim to offer practical advice for judges and lawyers on collaborating with court interpreters and addressing real-life issues and challenges that may arise in court proceedings.
The CLE will also discuss best practices to promote cultural fluency and avoid common mistakes. The speakers include Hon. Lizette Colon, Hon. Jacqueline Deane, Hon. Raja Rajeswari, and Ann Ryan, with introductions by BBA President Richard Klass and it will be moderated by Kwok Kei Ng.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment