Fighting an Administrative Agency

Fighting an Administrative Agency – Agency Action on Application for Adjudication.  A Lawyers perspective on filing an application to fight or adjudicate matters with an Administrative Agency.

In Washington state, the Washington State Administrative Procedure Act (APA) uses unique terms of art to define the various stages of administrative litigation that clients and their lawyers should be familiar with.   The timelines provide below are the statutory rules that apply in general to any Administrative Agency in Washington.  Keep in mind they are general rules and can be varied by case law, code or rule so it is essential the particulars of any case be reviewed by a lawyer | attorney before relying on rules of general application, however, this provides a rough idea of the process and timelines involved.

apa timeline

Once an applicant or their lawyer decides to fight an administrative agency, they must file a timely “response” indicating they want to contest the Washington State agency’s decision or opinion.  The agency is obligated to examine this response, commonly called an application in legal jargon and respond within 30 days (this is the general Washington State rule that applies to all agencies absent an exception).  The response must notify the applicant of any obvious errors or omissions, along with the contact information of an individual who can be contacted regarding the application. The response must also include any requests for additional information you and your lawyer wish to obtain and is permitted by law to require. 

At this point, a Washington State Administrative agency must decide whether want to proceed with their action or not within at least 83 days of the application.  If the agency decides not to conduct an adjudicative proceeding in response to the application, it must then provide the applicant with a written copy of the decision, which includes a brief statement why, along with notice of any available forms of administrative review.

From the minute you decide to fight, an experienced administrative law attorney, like lawyers at the Rhodes Legal Group, will help you form and conduct an investigation plan, preparing a defense, and communicating with the agency.  It is a common wisdom that failure to consider acting early and promptly is a recipe for disaster and significantly limits options.  Having an attorney to consult and represent you early in the process will give you more time to prepare and take steps to either convince the agency not to proceed with their action, properly prepare to fight an action or take steps to best mitigate a situation.  The default position in our office is to act early, decisively and recognize the time restrictions surrounding administrative actions.

In Washington, generally if the agency chooses to proceed with their action, they must then provide notice to the applicant of a hearing.  The written notice must be at least 7 days in advance and the proceeding must begin within 90 days of the application.  It must also include the contact information of all parties, the reference number of the proceeding, the contact information of the presiding officer, a statement of the time, place and nature of the proceeding, a statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held, a reference to the particular sections of the statutes and rules involved, a short and plain statement of what the agency is asserting, and a warning that if a party fails to attend or participate in the hearing, they may be held in default.

An experienced administrative lawyer and their firm will be able to identify, discuss and help weigh argument, opportunity and problems with a case.  Forming an investigation plan, knowing what steps to take to follow through on it, knowing when to fight vs. mitigates a situation, considering any criminal aspects to the allegations, knowing how to handle Prehearing, Settlement Conferences, & Continuances are all steps best made with the help with counsel. 

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, we have the ability to act quickly and decisively.  We practice throughout the state of Washington. Call or email us to schedule an appointment.

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 >>