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New Jersey Statutes, Title: 52, STATE GOVERNMENT, DEPARTMENTS AND OFFICERS
Section: 52:14B-10: Evidence; judicial notice; recommended report and decision; final decision; effective date.
10. In a contested case:
(a) (1) The parties shall not be bound by rules of evidence whether statutory, common law, or adopted formally by the Rules of Court. All relevant evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided herein. The administrative law judge may, in his discretion , exclude any evidence if he finds that its probative value is substantially outweighed by the risk that its admission will either necessitate undue consumption of time or create substantial danger of undue prejudice or confusion. The administrative law judge shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law. Any party in a contested case may present his case or defense by oral and documentary evidence, submit rebuttal evidence and conduct such cross-examination as may be required, in the discretion of the administrative law judge, for a full and true disclosure of the facts.
(2) Where the case involves a permitting or licensing decision of the Department of Environmental Protection, the department shall be required to produce and certify a permitting record within 30 days after the filing of the contested case. This deadline may be extended by an administrative law judge upon the unanimous agreement of the parties. The production and certification of the department's permitting record, in accordance with this paragraph, shall not limit the ability of the parties to further supplement the record.
(b) Notice may be taken of judicially noticeable facts. In addition, notice may be taken of generally recognized technical or scientific facts within the specialized knowledge of the agency or administrative law judge. Parties shall be notified either before or during the hearing, or by reference in preliminary reports or otherwise, of the material noticed, including any staff memoranda or data, and they shall be afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed. The experience, technical competence, and specialized knowledge of the agency or administrative law judge may be utilized in the evaluation of the evidence, provided this is disclosed of record.
(c) All hearings of a State agency required to be conducted as a contested case under this act or any other law shall be conducted by an administrative law judge assigned by the Director and Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Law, except as provided by this amendatory and supplementary act. A recommended report and decision which contains recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law and which shall be based upon sufficient, competent, and credible evidence shall be filed, not later than 45 days after the hearing is concluded, with the agency in such form that it may be adopted as the decision in the case and delivered or mailed, to the parties of record with an indication of the date of receipt by the agency head; and an opportunity shall be afforded each party of record to file exceptions, objections, and replies thereto, and to present argument to the head of the agency or a majority thereof, either orally or in writing, as the agency may direct.
Unless the head of the agency or a party requests that the recommended report and decision be filed in writing, the recommended report and decision of the administrative law judge may be filed orally in such appropriate cases as prescribed by the director and if a transcript has been requested pursuant to subsection (e) of section 9 of P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-9).
An administrative law judge may file a recommended report and decision in the form of a checklist in such appropriate cases and formats as prescribed by the director after consultation with each State agency.
The head of the agency, upon a review of the record submitted by the administrative law judge, shall adopt, reject or modify the recommended report and decision no later than 45 days after receipt of such recommendations. In reviewing the decision of an administrative law judge, the agency head may reject or modify findings of fact, conclusions of law or interpretations of agency policy in the decision, but shall state clearly the reasons for doing so. The agency head may not reject or modify any findings of fact as to issues of credibility of lay witness testimony unless it is first determined from a review of the record that the findings are arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable or are not supported by sufficient, competent, and credible evidence in the record. In rejecting or modifying any findings of fact, the agency head shall state with particularity the reasons for rejecting the findings and shall make new or modified findings supported by sufficient, competent, and credible evidence in the record. Unless the head of the agency modifies or rejects the report within such period, the decision of the administrative law judge shall be deemed adopted as the final decision of the head of the agency. The recommended report and decision shall be a part of the record in the case. For good cause shown, upon certification by the director and the agency head, the time limits established herein may be subject to a single extension of not more than 45 days. Any additional extension of time shall be subject to, and contingent upon, the unanimous agreement of the parties.
(d) A final decision or order adverse to a party in a contested case shall be in writing or stated in the record. A final decision shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law, separately stated and shall be based only upon the evidence of record at the hearing, as such evidence may be established by rules of evidence and procedure promulgated by the director.
Findings of fact, if set forth in statutory language, shall be accompanied by a concise and explicit statement of the underlying facts supporting the findings. The final decision may incorporate by reference any or all of the recommendations of the administrative law judge. Parties shall be notified either personally or by mail of any decision or order. Upon request a copy of the decision or order shall be delivered or mailed forthwith by registered or certified mail to each party and to his attorney of record.
(e) Except where otherwise provided by law, the administrative adjudication of the agency shall be effective on the date of delivery or on the date of mailing, of the final decision to the parties of record whichever shall occur first, or shall be effective on any date after the date of delivery or mailing, as the agency may provide by general rule or by order in the case. The date of delivery or mailing shall be stamped on the face of the decision.
(f) The head of an agency may order that, in certain appropriate cases, the recommended report and decision of the administrative law judge shall be deemed adopted, immediately on filing thereof with the agency, as the final decision of the head of the agency. The appropriate cases shall be described in a written order issued by the head of the agency, filed with the director, and made available to the public as a government record. The order shall not include any contested case for which the head of the agency is specifically required by State or federal law to review the recommended report and decision and adopt the final decision. The head of the agency may revise or revoke an order, issued pursuant to this subsection, whenever it is deemed appropriate. The order shall apply to all appropriate contested cases commenced with the agency after the order's issuance and until the order is rescinded or modified. In such appropriate contested cases, the head of the agency shall not have the opportunity to reject or modify the administrative law judge's recommended report and decision pursuant to subsection (c) of this section and the final decision by the administrative law judge shall comply with the requirements of and shall be given the same effect as a final decision of the head of the agency pursuant to subsection (d) of this section.
(g) Whenever the parties in a contested case stipulate to the factual record, and agree that there are no genuine issues of material fact to be adjudicated, the head of the agency may, in his discretion, render a final agency decision on the matter without obtaining the prior input of, or a recommended report and decision from, an administrative law judge.
L.1968, c.410, s.10; amended 1971, c.217, s.4; 1978, c.67, s.8; 1993, c.343, s.3; 2001, c.5, s.4; 2013, c.236, s.2.
This section added to the Rutgers Database: 2014-03-06 15:22:18.
Older versions of 52:14B-10 (if available):
Court decisions that cite this statute: CLICK HERE.