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Georgia State Code
Title      45
Chapter      20  
Section Navigation        1 ... 9          10 ... 19    
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Title 45, Chapter 20, Section 9 (45-20-9)

(a) Any laws to the contrary notwithstanding, all hearings on dismissals, other adverse personnel actions, and other purported violations of the rules and regulations in the several departments which are included in the career service shall be instituted by filing a written appeal with the Office of State Administrative Hearings upon such ground and in such form and under such procedure as may be prescribed by rules and regulations of the office. The party appealing and the department from whose action the appeal is taken shall be notified in writing within 15 days from the filing of the appeal that an appeal has been filed and the time for which a hearing is scheduled.

(b) The State Personnel Board, any member of the board, or an administrative law judge shall have the authority to do the following in connection with any hearing on a dismissal or other purported violation of the rules and regulations in the several departments which are included in the career service: administer oaths and affirmations; sign and issue subpoenas; rule upon offers of proof; regulate the course of the hearing, set the time and place for continued hearings, and fix the time for filing briefs; dispose of motions to dismiss for lack of the board's jurisdiction over the subject matter or parties or for any other ground; dispose of motions to amend or to intervene; provide for the taking of testimony by deposition or interrogatory; and reprimand or exclude from the hearing any person for any indecorous or improper conduct committed in the presence of the board or the administrative law judge.

(c) Subpoenas shall be issued without discrimination between public and private parties. When a subpoena is disobeyed, any party may apply to the superior court of the county where the hearing is being held for an order requiring obedience. Failure to comply with such order shall be cause for punishment as for contempt of court. The costs of securing the attendance of witnesses, including fees and mileage, shall be computed and assessed in the same manner as prescribed by law in civil cases in the superior court. Once issued a subpoena may be quashed by the board or an administrative law judge if it appears that the subpoena was used primarily as a means of harassment, that the testimony or documents sought are cumulative, that the testimony or documents sought are not relevant, that the testimony or documents sought are not material, that to respond to the subpoena would be unduly burdensome, or that for other good reasons basic fairness dictates that the subpoena should not be enforced.

(d) With respect to all hearings before the board or the administrative law judge:

(1) Irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded. The rules of evidence as applied in the trial of civil nonjury cases in the superior courts of Georgia shall be followed. Evidence not admissible thereunder may be admitted if it is of a type commonly relied upon by reasonably prudent men in the conduct of their affairs. The board shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law. Objections to evidentiary offers may be made and shall be noted in the record. Subject to these requirements, when a hearing will be expedited and the interests of the parties will not be prejudiced substantially, any part of the evidence may be received in written form;

(2) Documentary evidence may be received in the form of copies or excerpts if the original is not readily available. Upon request and at the discretion of the administrative law judge or board, parties shall be given an opportunity to compare the copy with the original;

(3) A party may conduct such cross-examination as shall be required for a full and true disclosure of the facts;

(4) Official notice may be taken of judicially recognizable facts. In addition, official notice may be taken of technical facts within the board's specialized knowledge. Parties shall be notified either before or during the hearing by reference in preliminary reports or otherwise of the material officially noticed, including any staff memoranda or data; and they shall be afforded an opportunity to contest the material so noticed. The board's experience, technical competence, and specialized knowledge may be utilized in the evaluation of the evidence.

(e)(1) With respect to hearings at which the board did not preside at the presentation of the evidence, the administrative law judge who presided shall issue an initial decision within 30 days from the close of the evidence or if necessary within a longer period of time as ordered by the board or the administrative law judge. The initial decision shall be transmitted to the board, and copies shall be sent to the parties or their representatives. In the absence of an application for review from an adversely affected party to the board within 30 days from the date the initial decision was issued or in the absence of an order by the board within such time for review on its own motion, the decision shall become the decision of the board without further proceedings or notice; and any right of additional appeals shall be extinguished.

(2) On review of the entire record from the administrative law judge, the board shall have all the powers it would have in presiding at the reception of the evidence, including the review of any motions granted or denied by the administrative law judge and including the review of any action taken by the administrative law judge. Both parties shall have the right to present oral arguments to the board. Any presentation to the board on the matter by an administrative law judge shall be made in the presence of the parties. No administrative law judge shall be present during the board's deliberations and voting on the application. At its discretion, the board may take additional testimony or remand the matter to the administrative law judge for such purpose.

(f) Unless precluded by law, informal disposition of any proceeding before the board or the administrative law judge may be made by stipulation, agreed settlement, consent order, or default.

(g) As a part of the initial decision or order subsequent to any hearing, the administrative law judge or the board shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law separately stated and the effective date of the decision or order. 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. Copies of the decision or order shall be mailed to all parties of record.

(h) Any party, including the state and any state board, bureau, commission, or department, who has exhausted all administrative remedies available before the board and who is aggrieved by a final decision or order of the board on any hearing may seek judicial review of the final decision or order of the board in the superior court of the county of the place of employment of the employee.

(i) Proceedings for review shall be instituted by filing a petition with the court within 30 days after the decision or order is rendered. Copies of the petition shall be served upon the board and all parties of record. The petition shall state the nature of the petitioner's interest, the facts showing that the petitioner is aggrieved by the decision of the board, and the grounds upon which the petitioner contends the decision or order should be reversed or remanded. The petition may be amended with leave of court.

(j) Within 30 days after the service of the petition or within further time allowed by the court, the board shall transmit to the reviewing court the original or a certified copy of the entire record of the proceeding under review. By stipulation of all parties to the review proceeding the record may be shortened. A party unreasonably refusing to stipulate to limit the record may be taxed by the court for the additional costs. The court may require or permit subsequent corrections or additions to the record.

(k) The filing of the petition shall stay the enforcement of the board's decision or order.

(l) If before the date set for hearing the appeal by the superior court application is made to the court for leave to present additional evidence and it is shown to the satisfaction of the court that the additional evidence is material and there were good reasons for failure to present it in the proceedings before the board, the court may order that the additional evidence be taken before the board upon conditions determined by the court. The board may modify its findings and decision or order by reason of the additional evidence and shall file that evidence and any modifications, new findings, or decisions and orders with the reviewing court.

(m) The review shall be conducted by the court without a jury and shall be confined to the record. The court shall not substitute its judgment for that of the board as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. The court may affirm the decision or order of the board or remand the case for further proceedings. The court may reverse the decision or order of the board if substantial rights of the petitioner have been prejudiced because the board's findings, inferences, conclusions, decisions, or orders are:

(1) In violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;

(2) In excess of the statutory authority of the board;

(3) Made upon unlawful procedure;

(4) Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record; or

(5) Arbitrary, capricious, or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.

(n) A party aggrieved by an order of the court in a proceeding authorized under this Code section may appeal to the Supreme Court of Georgia or the Court of Appeals of Georgia in accordance with Article 2 of Chapter 6 of Title 5.

Saturday May 23 14:43 EDT

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