Appealing Adjudicative Proceedings

Appealing Adjudicative Proceedings.  An Attorney | Lawyer’s Prospective on Administrative Matters that Need to be Appealed.

"Thurston County Courthouse (Olympia, Washington)" by Visitor7 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“Thurston County Courthouse (Olympia, Washington)” by Visitor7 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

In Washington, in general if an individual wishes to appeal an administrative officer’s final order, in general the petition for reconsideration should be done and all internal administrative appeals must be exhausted. Once all internal administrative appeals are exhausted, the next step for you and your administrative lawyer | attorney to take is to file a petition for judicial review, commonly called an appeal, with a local superior court.  This step is often called an “appeal.”  The petition for judicial review of an order must be filed with the superior court and served on the agency, the Washington Attorney General’s office, and all parties of record within 30 days of service of the final order unless your local rules state otherwise.  Washington follows a general rule that all parties must pay their own attorney fees, however, on administrative appeals, there are some interesting exceptions to this rule.  You should discuss the possibility of getting attorney fees if you prevail on an administrative appeal with our administrative law lawyers.

Not all agency actions can be appealed.  If an individual, business or their lawyer has not fully exhausted all administrative remedies available, then they may not be permitted to appeal.  From our prospective as practicing administrative law lawyers | attorneys, the logic to this rule is that the court system is extremely busy and does not want to deal with cases which could have been resolved by other means and so the rules are written to encourage and enforce this with strict procedures and guidelines.

The key take home point from our prospective is an individual or administrative law lawyer cannot skip a step in the administrative review process and jump straight to an appeal of the original action unless there is a clear and legal basis to do so or the court had jurisdiction on the original case (i.e. an agency seizure of high value items being heard in a superior court) unless they want to lose.  Making sure you and your legal team pays close attention to this cannot be stated enough. 

The Appeal Itself

The petition | appeal must include specific items, including such things as the names and mailing addresses of the petitioner, of their attorney, of the agency who’s action is at issue, along with a summary of the agency action, and identification of persons who were parties to any adjudicative proceeding which led to the agency action.  The most important content of the petition will be the petitioner’s (the person appealing) reason(s) for believing that their petition should be granted, the facts showing they have a right for judicial review and what agency action they want the court to stop/overturn.  The lawyers in our office have a long history of identifying and articulating standards and reducing complex issues to digestible and persuasive content.  On appeal, great weight should be put on succinct powerful persuasion.

As previously mentioned on other pages, when results matter, it is extremely important to have an attorney representing you early in the process.  If an issue was not previously raised during the administrative proceeding process, you cannot then try to raise the issue on appeal.  In Washington, even an attorney hired on appeal cannot bring up new arguments or introduce new facts, which you did not previously bring up except under limited circumstances so plan ahead if results matter.

Keep in mind while the appeal is pending, the administrative order will still be in effect unless a party petitioned for and was granted a stay from the administrative judge who entered the order.  Another stay option would be the party petitioning for review to then request the reviewing court for a stay.

Under very limited circumstances, an individual may file a petition for direct review to the court of appeals and bypass a Washington Superior Court review. In order to do this, the petition must either be certified by the superior court or the agency action must have been a final decision from an environmental board as defined by statute that has filed a certificate of appealability.  The application for direct review must be filed within 30 days of the petition for review in the superior court.  The superior court may only certify the case for direct review if the judicial review is limited to the record of the agency proceeding and the court determines there are fundamental and urgent issues affecting the future administrative process or the public interest are involved which requires a prompt determination; delay in obtaining a final and prompt determination of such issues would be detrimental to any party or public interest; an appeal to the court of appeals would be likely no matter what the superior court would determine; and the appellate court’s determination in the proceeding would have significant precedential value.  As you can see, based on our opinion, very few cases will meet the necessary criteria to qualify for a direct review by the court of appeals.  It is much more likely the appeal will be first handled by the superior court.

Our firm is defined by its goal oriented mentality, blue collar work ethic, an intense dislike of losing and a refreshingly clear approach to candid legal counseling.  Our reputation and client reviews reflect this.  Together, our lawyers have over 50 years of combined legal experience and as a team and we have the ability to act quickly and decisively.  We practice throughout the state of Washington. Call or email us to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.

Robert Rhodes

With a successful background in law, courtrooms, wrestling, rugby and jujitsu, Robert Rhodes’s nature is well-suited for argument and litigation. Mr. Rhodes knows how to talk clearly and directly to his clients, adversaries and to the Court. His common sense, straight talk and experience put his clients immediately at ease. Mr. Rhodes does not do anything half way and you will sense this when you meet him. Read more >>