Making Justice RealThe Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
New Chief Judge at the Office of Administrative Hearings
Six years ago, the District of Columbia consolidated its administrative hearing functions into a central panel. The new agency was called the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The creation of a professional independent judge corps to decide administrative cases is a very good idea. However, we have had serious concerns about OAH since its inception, including:
• A technical and unforgiving application of rules that results in cases being resolved because of a procedural foot-fault and not on the merits.
• Complex procedures that are not friendly to unrepresented litigants.
• Failure to adequately accommodate language minorities.
• Backlogs in case decisions and transmission of records to the Court of Appeals.
Mayor Fenty has nominated a new Chief Judge for OAH, Mary Oates Walker. At her confirmation hearing on January 15, 2010, she committed to working with the legal services community to solve these and other problems and to make access to justice a priority. Legal Aid stands ready to assist.