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Chapter 06 - Office of Administrative Law Judge

Chapter 06 - Office of Administrative Law Judge

4.0601 Short title.


This act shall be known as the Administrative Law Judge Act of 1998.

4.0602 Administrative Law Judge-Office created-Qualifications.


(a) The Office of Administrative Law Judge is created as an independent agency of the Executive branch of government. The head of this office shall be known as the Administrative Law Judge. In a contested case, as defined in 4.1001, or other grievance or controversy before

(b) any agency, as defined in 4.1001, the Administrative Law Judge shall conduct and

either make or recommend decisions in original proceedings, in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act 4.1025 - 4.1037. Any agency may utilize the administrative law judge to conduct or otherwise assist its authorized rule making under 4.1001 - 4.1020.

(c) The Administrative Law Judge shall be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate for a term of six (6) years and shall serve until his successor is appointed and qualified or until reappointed for one or more terms, provided that the first Administrative Law Judge appointed pursuant to this section shall serve for a limited term commencing upon passage and approval of this act and ending on September 30, 2000. The first six-year term of office shall commence October 1, 2000. Vacancies in the office shall be filled by the Governor for the unexpired term if less than two (2) years shall remain in said term.

(d) The Administrative Law Judge shall be a qualified attorney at law, licensed to practice in the Territory with at least 6 years experience in the practice of law within the Territory and may be removed from office by the Governor only for good cause.

(e) The Administrative Law Judge shall devote full time to the performance of his duties and shall not otherwise engage in the private or public practice of law during the term of his appointment. The annual compensation of the Administrative Law Judge shall be at a rate equal to the compensation of the district court judge and shall not be reduced during the term of his appointment.

(f) The Office of Administrative Law Judge shall be staffed by career service employees including, but not limited to, hearing clerks, a hearing reporter, a translator, a secretary and marshal.

(g) The Administrative Law Judge shall adopt uniform rules governing the procedures for the operation of his office in accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act.

(h) One or more attorneys at law may be designated and appointed pursuant to this section to serve as Administrative Law Judge pro tempore when so appointed by the Governor when the Administrative Law Judge is unavailable, incapacitated, or ethically unable to conduct a particular contested case or other grievance or controversy. An Administrative Law Judge pro tempore has all the powers and duties of a full-time Administrative Law Judge while sitting as assigned by the Governor.

4.0603 Authority of Administrative Law Judge.


(a) The Administrative Law Judge and judges pro tempore shall have the power to preserve and enforce order during any proceedings, issue subpoenas, administer oaths, compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, documents and other evidence, compel the taking of depositions before any designated individual competent to administer oaths, examine witnesses, and to all things conformable to law which may be necessary to enable him effectively to discharge the duties of his office.

(b) The Administrative Law Judge shall have the power and authority to issue process and necessary writs to enforce its own decisions, which shall be known as “administrative ruling”.

(c) The Administrative Law Judge shall have the power and authority to affirm, reverse, modify or remand the decision or order of an agency if it finds that such order or decision is:

(1) outside the range of discretion delegated to the agency by law;

(2) inconsistent with an agency rule, official position, or prior practice, unless the agency explains the inconsistency by stating facts and reasons which demonstrate a rational basis for the inconsistency;

(3) in violation of an applicable statutory provision; or

(4) unsupported by substantial evidence in the agency record. Substantial evidence exists when the agency record, viewed as a whole, would permit a reasonable person to make the finding made by the agency.

4.0604 Jurisdiction of the Administrative Law Judge.


The Office of Administrative Law Judge shall have jurisdiction to conduct hearings and issue decisions, with regards to the following matters:

(a) claims for workmen's compensation in accordance with the procedures set forth in sections 32.0635 to and including 32.0646. All other authorities of the Workmen's Compensation Commission under Chapter 06 of Title 32 A.S.C.A., shall remain with the commission.

(b) Controversies, grievances and administrative appeals by government employees on matters pertaining to employment, including matters pertaining to hiring, termination, suspension and discipline. The responsibilities formerly held by the Personnel Advisory Board pursuant to section 7.0102, with regards to the said matters are now transferred to the Office of Administrative Law Judge. All other functions of the Personnel Advisory Board not otherwise affected herein shall remain with the board.

(c) Appeals from the decisions of the Immigration Board in all matters except decisions with respect to deportation of aliens as provided in section 41.0208 - 41.0212. Appeal of deportation decisions of the board shall be made to the Appellate Division of the High Court as provided by law. All other decisions of the board may be appealed to the Administrative Law Judge.

(d) All disputes and controversies pertaining to claims for unpaid or improperly paid wages and hours pursuant to Chapter 03 of Title 32 A.S.C.A., except in matters relating to the rulemaking authority of the wage and hour board.

(e) All appeals filed by applicants and notaries public pursuant to the Notary Act of 2007, Title 31, Chapter 03, sections 31.0309(e) and 31.0358(c) A.S.C.A.

(f) To take appeals of procurement officer's final decision in a procurement bidding dispute as described in section 10.0282 A.S.C.A. The Governor's authority to appoint a three member board to hear disputes of matters pertaining to procurement disputes is hereby repealed.

(g) Any other contested case, grievance or controversy that agencies, offices and departments of the government may be referred to the Office of Administrative Law Judge for disposition providing that the Office of Administrative Law Judge has jurisdiction over such matter.

(h) All appeals from administrative rulings or decisions of any administrative agency, except those matters specifically exempted herein or by statute, of a department, office, agency, commission, board or committee of the Executive branch or the American Samoa Government, shall first be made to the Office of Administrative Law Judge. Decisions of the Administrative may be appealed to the Appellate Division of the High Court of American Samoa.

(i) In cases involving the administrative suspension of drivers licenses pursuant to Title 22, Chapter 06 of this Code, the Administrative Law Judge shall have jurisdiction to hold hearings and issue decisions regarding the suspension of drivers licenses for refusal to submit to testing pursuant to A.S.C.A., 22.0601 et. seq.

4.0605 Record keeping.


The Office of Administrative Law Judge shall be a court of record and shall keep and maintain complete records of its proceedings and shall transmit the record to the High Court of American Samoa upon the filing of an appeal of said matter to the High Court.

4.0606 Cost and fees.


(a) The Administrative Law Judge shall fix all fees for services, filing fees and other costs assessed by the Office of Administrative Law Judge in connection with services rendered and not otherwise provided for in this code, provided, however, that such fees shall be set in an amount which is reasonable, fair and just compensation for the service rendered, at least in part to defray the cost of such service, and does not exceed the actual cost of providing the service.

(b) The cost of transcript of proceedings in any hearings or trial shall be fixed at no more than the rate charged for transcript with the District Court of American Samoa.

4.0607 Rules of procedures and evidence.


(a) Proceedings before the Administrative Law Judge shall be in the form of a hearing on the evidence and issues presented to the agency notwithstanding the nature of the controversy or dispute, supplemented by any additional evidence allowed under section 4.0608. It shall be the obligation of the Administrative Law Judge to preserve as complete a record as possible for purposes of appeal.

(b) In proceedings before the Administrative Law Judge, the Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Evidence applicable in the High Court of American Samoa shall be used as a guide. These rules may be supplemented or modified by the Administrative Law Judge with any additional rules promulgated in accordance with provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act.

4.0608 New evidence issues limited.


(a) The Administrative Law Judge may permit new evidence in addition to that taken by the agency only if it relates to the validity of the agency action at the time it was taken and is needed to decide issues regarding: (1) improper constitution as a decision making body or grounds for disqualification of those taking the agency action; and

(2) unlawfulness of procedure or decision making process; and

(3) the completeness of the factual record before the Administrative Law Judge.

(b) Issues not raised before the agency may not be raised on appeal to the Administrative Law Judge, except to the extent that: (1) The party appealing the agency decision did not know and was under not duty to discover or could not have reasonably discovered facts giving rise to the basis of the appeal;

(2) The agency action subject to review is a rule and the person has not been a party in an adjudicative agency proceeding;

(3) The agency action subject to review is an order and the party was not notified of the

adjudicative proceeding in substantial compliance with this chapter or the rules of the agency; or

(4) The interests of justice would be served by resolution of an issue arising from a change in controlling law occurring after the agency action.

4.0609 Budget.


The Office of the Administrative Law Judge shall be included in the Governor's annual budget submission to the Legislature.