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Indiana has new ALJ chapter

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Two state government attorneys have founded the Indiana chapter of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary. Their goal is to organize and connect those individuals in the state who are working in an ALJ capacity.

A kickoff luncheon on Nov. 4 marked the beginning of the organization’s new Hoosier affiliate, which joins more than a dozen other jurisdictions with local chapters. The NAALJ is a non-profit entity founded in Illinois in 1974, and it describes itself as the “largest professional organization devoted exclusively to administrative adjudication within the executive branch of government.”

The national organization says its mission is “to promote an impartial, professional administrative judiciary that adheres to high ethical standards and furthers the recognition and understanding of its necessary role in the function of government.”

In Indiana, attorneys Linda B. Klain and Catherine Gibbs – both ALJs in the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Adjudication – founded the Hoosier chapter after seeing firsthand the loose network of ALJs who work in the state.

“We have many talented, career people who aren’t lawyers working as administrative law judges in many state and even federal branches of government,” said Klain, who’s been a part-time ALJ for about three years. “But we really don’t know how many there are, because everyone’s kind of practicing in isolation on the basis that we’re supposed to be independent and neutral. We just don’t communicate and it’s all word of mouth without much structure.”

Currently, Indiana’s state agencies use ALJs on a case-by-case basis, and no one tracks their use on a statewide basis. Each agency must be contacted, but not every agency keeps accurate tabs on how many ALJs it uses in a given year. A study determined the state had more than 50 ALJs within various agencies at one point in 2008, but the examination wasn’t comprehensive and didn’t include all departments.

Klain hopes the group can organize to connect and meet other ALJs to discuss issues and trends, as well as increase professionalism and education. One potential area of discussion involves centralizing ALJs, as well as whether individuals serving in that role should be lawyers. Those are topics the Indiana General Assembly has studied in recent years, but no revision of the state’s existing ALJ process has occurred.

“Some things are universal no matter where you practice as an ALJ,” Klain said. “We hope this will be a positive force in our agencies and in the legal community.”

The next organizational meeting will be in December, though a date has not been set. Klain said the group will discuss potential bylaws and organizational structure, with an advisor from the Kentucky chapter present. Attorney and non-lawyer ALJs are welcome to attend, and more information can be obtained by contacting Klain at 317-518-1100.
 

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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

  2. Being dedicated to a genre keeps it alive until the masses catch up to the "trend." Kent and Bill are keepin' it LIVE!! Thank you gentlemen..you know your JAZZ.

  3. Hemp has very little THC which is needed to kill cancer cells! Growing cannabis plants for THC inside a hemp field will not work...where is the fear? From not really knowing about Cannabis and Hemp or just not listening to the people teaching you through testimonies and packets of info over the last few years! Wake up Hoosier law makers!

  4. If our State Government would sue for their rights to grow HEMP like Kentucky did we would not have these issues. AND for your INFORMATION many medical items are also made from HEMP. FOOD, FUEL,FIBER,TEXTILES and MEDICINE are all uses for this plant. South Bend was built on Hemp. Our states antiquated fear of cannabis is embarrassing on the world stage. We really need to lead the way rather than follow. Some day.. we will have freedom in Indiana. And I for one will continue to educate the good folks of this state to the beauty and wonder of this magnificent plant.

  5. Put aside all the marijuana concerns, we are talking about food and fiber uses here. The federal impediments to hemp cultivation are totally ridiculous. Preposterous. Biggest hemp cultivators are China and Europe. We get most of ours from Canada. Hemp is as versatile as any crop ever including corn and soy. It's good the governor laid the way for this, regrettable the buffoons in DC stand in the way. A statutory relic of the failed "war on drugs"

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