Leadership changes occurred this week in Maryland and Florida’s administrative law judge (ALJ) corps. The governor’s power to appoint head ALJs in these and similar states helps the executive direct and oversee state administrative activity.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) on June 9 appointed Chung Ki Pak to serve as the state’s new chief ALJ. Pak will manage the roughly 60 ALJs employed by the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, which provides Maryland state agencies with ALJs to hold hearings and adjudicate disputes.
In Florida, Chief ALJ John MacIver, an appointee of Governor Ron DeSantis (R), resigned on June 9 to transition to a new role as counsel for the state’s chief financial officer. DeSantis must gain approval from his cabinet to appoint MacIver’s replacement. Florida’s chief ALJ also serves as the director of the state Division of Administrative Hearings, which provides ALJs to state agencies, cities, counties, and independent government entities to adjudicate disputes.
Maryland and Florida are examples of states with centralized ALJ panels. Unlike federal ALJs, who are appointed by agency heads to hold administrative hearings at specific agencies, 27 states centralize their ALJ corps and provide ALJs to state agencies on request. The goal of the centralized ALJ structure is to protect procedural rights for citizens in administrative adjudication by ensuring that the presiding judge is independent of the agency that is a party to the case.