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Chapter I - Subchapter C

§ 1-27 Disqualification of Administrative Law Judges.

Applications for Disqualification Denied

Where the ALJ is not a party, has not been counsel to a party, and has no interest in or any relations to a party to the proceeding, there is no basis for mandatory recusal under Section 14 of the Judiciary Law. The rulings and conduct that respondent attributed to bias reflect the discretion inherent in the tribunal, and the attempt to conduct proceedings in a fair, balanced, and efficient manner. Motion to recuse ALJ on the ground of alleged bias denied. Dep't of Housing Preservation and Development v. 331 W 22nd Street, LLC, OATH Index No. 912/06, mem. dec. (May 15, 2006).

A loft tenant filed a challenge to her owner's rent increase application some three months after the deadline. Administrative law judge reviewed a prior challenge on the same matter included in the Loft Board file and, in a notice sent to the tenant, requested submissions on the apparent untimeliness of her challenge and also on prior stipulations settling the rent issue. The tenant filed a motion to disqualify the presiding administrative law judge and all other OATH administrative law judges, arguing that the judge's review of these files was improper because it was ex parte and constituted advocacy for the owner. Administrative law judge denied the motion finding that it lacked any legal or factual basis. Matter of Breson Corp., OATH Index No. 1758/99, mem. dec. (May 14, 1999).

The respondent's post-trial application for recusal of the administrative law judge, alleging bias by the judge and an improper post-trial ex parte communication between the administrative law judge and the petitioner, was denied. The administrative law judge's initial reluctance to allow the requested time for the respondent's post-trial submission did not demonstrate bias against the respondent. The ex parte communication was inadvertent, occurring when the administrative law judge, rather than her secretary, answered a telephone call, and the respondent demonstrated no resulting prejudice. Dep't of Buildings v. Bellman, OATH Index No. 1100/93 (Apr. 11, 1994), aff'd, BSA Nos. 105-94-A, 106-94-A, reprinted in 80 Bulletin of Bd. of Stds. and Apps. 346, 348 (July 6, 1995).

The fact that the administrative law judge ruled against the clients of an attorney in his three prior cases of a particular type does not demonstrate that the judge is biased against the attorney and his clients in the present case of the same type; nor would any reasonably objective observer so conclude. Police Dep't v. Lowe, OATH Index Nos. 923-24/94 (Oct. 21, 1993).

Disqualification of All Administrative Law Judges

Where two OATH judges will be material witnesses at trial, they are disqualified from presiding at trial due to their extra-record knowledge of the facts in issue, and other OATH judges are disqualified because their collegial relationship with the two witnesses could lead a reasonable person to question their impartiality. In such a case, the chief administrative law judge will appoint a special administrative law judge to preside. Human Resources Admin. v. Man-of-Jerusalem, OATH Index No. 1021/91 (Sept. 6, 1991).