What are Administrative Hearings? The Commission performs a quasi-judicial function when it rules on revocation or denial of certification. The Division initiates this process when it learns that an applicant has failed to meet or maintain minimum standards for certification. The Division uses several methods of investigation, including a computer check of fingerprints and reports of separation.
In some cases, including those which involve felonies, authority has been delegated to the Director, who may commence probable cause proceedings without consulting the Commission.
In cases which involve misdemeanors, the by-laws require a judgment from the Commission, so those cases are presented to the Probable Cause Committee for review. This committee is appointed by the Commission’s chairman and consists of five (5) members (Sheriffs only) of the Commission, one of whom will serve as the committee’s chairman.
The Committee deliberates and decides whether the evidence is sufficient to establish probable cause for adverse actions to be taken against an applicant or a certified officer. If so, it recommends its decision to the Director, who will act in accordance with the Committee’s directives. The Probable Cause Committee meets prior to each full Commission meeting.
The individual involved has the right to challenge, through the Office of Administrative Hearings, decisions made by both the Director and the Probable Cause Committee and is given the opportunity to do so prior to any permanent action regarding his or her certification. If an Administrative Hearing is requested, Legal Counsel is responsible for scheduling the hearing.
Once a hearing date has been set, the case becomes strictly a matter for the legal counsel, and members of the Probable Cause Committee, as well as the Division staff, are forbidden by law to discuss it. N.C.G.S. 150B-40(d) provides that committee members shall not communicate with anyone concerning the hearing until the matter is formally presented to the Commission for its final ruling.
When the Administrative Law Judge makes his or her recommendation, the Commission may accept it, reject it, or accept it with amendments. If the petitioner appeals this “final agency decision”, the case is referred to Superior Court and leaves the jurisdiction of the Commission.