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Randall R. Fearnow quoted in article “Lawyers blast bias in ALJ system; urge technical adjudicators remain”

The Indiana Lawyer

Below is an excerpt:

Lawyers who practice before Indiana administrative law judges painted a picture Wednesday of a rigged, onerous system that overwhelmingly favors the government when parties appeal state agency actions.

Meanwhile, attorneys who argue highly technical utility and environmental administrative matters urged the same legislative panel to retain systems of review they say require hearing officers who have particular subject matter expertise.

The testimony came in a General Assembly study committee that’s considering proposals for Indiana to follow the lead of 30 other states by replacing the current ALJ system with independent panels deemed less beholden to the agencies that employ them.

Quarles & Brady LLP partner Randall R. Fearnow represents health care providers before various state agencies. He told the committee that in 25 years of practice, he could count on one hand the number of times his client prevailed before an Indiana ALJ. He said he routinely advises clients to prepare to try their case before the ALJ, lose, and then be prepared retry the case in court. He said this structure means only clients who can afford to finance an appeal of an adverse agency decision do so.

Fearnow called Indiana’s current ALJ structure an “expensive, cumbersome, and ultimately futile system.”

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