Chaudhary v. Department of Human Services, 2021 IL App. (2d) 200364 -(September 16, 2021).
Determining who has the burden of proof in an administrative proceeding can be crucial to the outcome of the case. Which side has the burden of proof in a State administrative hearing? Is it always the person who seeks administrative adjudication of the administrative decision? The ruling in Chaudhary v. Department of Human Services supports the proposition that the party seeking to change the status quo has the burden of proof. In this case, the Department of Human Services determined that Ms. Chaudhary received an overpayment of Snap (food stamp) benefits. The issue involved her husband’s residence during the period she received the benefits,
Chaudhary. appealed the overpayment decision and was given an administrative hearing. At that hearing, the ALJ determined that Chaudhary had the burden of proving that she did not receive an overpayment, The ALJ found for the Department. Eventually, the case reached the appellate court which reversed. The court found that the Department was attempting to change the status quo by initiating a proceeding to recoup the alleged over-payment benefits from Chaudhary and therefore, the Department had the burden of proving that Chaudhary was overpaid. Below is an excerpt of the decision.
“… Chaudhary’s argument that the party who seeks to change the status quo should bear the burden of proof is well-taken. See 2 Kenneth S. Broun et al., McCormick on Evidence § 337 (8th ed. 2020) (“The burdens of pleading and proof with regard to most facts have been and should be assigned to the plaintiff who generally seeks to change the present state [*23] of affairs and who therefore naturally should be expected to bear the risk of failure of proof or persuasion. ” (Emphasis added.)). We have previously applied this general concept. In Szewczyk, we determined that a police chief properly bore the burden of proof to show that the department should hire him back to the police department, reasoning that he initiated the relevant proceeding by filing a petition for reinstatement. Szewczyk v. Board of Fire & Police Commissioners, 2011 IL App (2d) 100321, x 62, 953 N.E.2d 967, 352Ill. Dec. 286. we noted that, under the Illinois Municipal Code, the police chief was not entitled to a hearing where the Village would be required to show cause for his termination or allow him to present a defense. Id. In other words, the police chief jn Szewcyzk was the party seeking to change the status quo of being discharged from the police department.
All the primary case law relied upon by the parties is consistent with the idea absent a statutory provision to the contrary, the party who brings a claim is the party who bears the burden of proof during the administrative proceedings on that claim.
A core doctrine of administrative law states that courts should defer to agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous statutes so long as these interpretations are “reasonable.” The Illinois Supreme Court has sanctioned the applicability of this legal doctrine in Illinois…. See the full story here.
Board of Governors -National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary
Our state administrative legal system is based on the principle that an independent, fair and competent administrative judiciary will interpret and apply the laws that govern consistent with American concepts of justice. Intrinsic to all sections of this Code are the precepts that state administrative law judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor their office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system. The state administrative law judge decides questions of fact and law for the resolution of disputes and is a highly visible symbol of government under the rule of law.
This Code of Judicial Conduct for State Administrative Law Judges is intended to establish standards for ethical conduct. The Canons and Sections contained in this code are rules of reason. They should be applied consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, administrative rules and decisional law and in the context of all relevant circumstances. The Code is to be construed so as to not impinge on the essential independence of the state administrative law judge in making judicial decisions.
The Code of Judicial Conduct for State Administrative Law Judges is not intended as an exhaustive guide for the conduct of state administrative law judges. They should also be governed in their official judicial and personal conduct by general ethical standards. The Code is intended, however, to state basic standards which should govern the conduct of all judges and to provide guidance to assist such judges in establishing and maintaining high standards of judicial and personal conduct.
Except where modified, this Code follows the language of the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct for Federal Administrative Law Judges. This Code is also based upon the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct (1990). The American Bar Association’s codes are copyrighted by the American Bar Association and are used with permission.
Click Here for the complete copy of the Model Code.
by Administrative Law Judge and IAALJ Member
Stanley J. Cygan (IL).
At the 2005 NAALJ conference in Chicago, long-time NAALJ member Stan Cygan made an address to the membership on NAALJ history. Click Here for link to the History.
The Illinois Administrative Code is the codification of the rules and regulations established by the executive departments and agencies of the Illinois government. It is divided into titles by subject.
Access the Illinois Administrative Code Here.