Land Use and Local Government Law and Litigation

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Document in Quasi-Judicial Hearing Insufficient to Support Determination

In Dep't of Hwys v. Roberts, here's the link, the 5th granted denied cert (over an objection) and upheld a circuit court quashal of yet another kangaroo-court administrative hearing over a license.

The basic issue - probably cause for a stop. The only evidence in the record was the arresting officer's affadavit:

To meet its burden of showing that the stop was legal, Petitioner [the department] chose to rely solely on the trooper’s charging affidavit, which, in material part,
stated: “Observe [sic] the above name [sic] defendant violate F.S.S 316.187(1) by traveling at 71 mph in a 45 mph speed limit area. When I pulled up behind the defendant and attempted to pull him over he traveled for approximately another tenth of a mile before pulling over.”

It basically found that the circuit court properly found that these recitals didn't establish enough evidence of how and why the stop was made to justify it under 4th amendment principles. Also, critically for those of us who do administrative hearings, it found that in evaluating the legal sufficiency of this evidence, the trial court did not reweigh it.

Yeah, team.

BUT WHAT'S SCARY HERE IS THAT IT WAS ABOUT THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE. What about the confrontation/cross examination problem? The department put on an affadavit and didn't produce the officer, and this would be OK? What about the rule that hearsay alone (and this is clearly hearsay) isn't sufficient to ground a decision in a quasi-judicial case.

I don't know if the driver was represented at the hearing, or whether these issues were raised in the 1st tier cert petition. But they're fundamental. The fact that the department would even think of proceeding against the driver on the basis of the officer's affidavit, without the officer present, is an indication of just how contemptuously they view the process and the leniety they expect from their (department paid and controlled) non-lawyer hearing officers.

This entire system is a sham and a disgrace. At least we have one opinion that demonstrates that insufficient evidence in a quasi-judicial hearing is that.

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Hiring an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask and I will send you free written information about my qualifications and experience. Additionally, the comments, statements and articles contained herein are general in nature and should not be relied upon as a basis for any legal opinion, action or conclusion on the part of the reader with respect to any particular set of facts or circumstances, or to establish an attorney-client relationship between us.