Pursuant to the New York City Charter, OATH's Trials Division holds proceedings on a diverse range of complex administrative law matters including: disciplinary cases relating to the City's 370,000 civil service workforce, city contract disputes; marriage license cases; prevailing wage cases brought by the Comptroller to seek restitution of underpayments to laborers, workers and mechanics on City contracts; suspension or revocation of city-issued licenses; landlord-tenant disputes in buildings covered by the Loft Law; SRO proceedings where owners of single room occupancy buildings challenge findings of harassment; padlock proceedings to stop alleged commercial uses in residentially zoned premises; Krimstock cases where owners seek return of their cars seized during an arrest; discrimination cases; violations of the City's Campaign Finance and Conflict of Interest Laws; and paid sick leave and other Department of Consumer Affairs matters. In 2016 over 2,600 matters were resolved or adjudicated at OATH's Trials Division.
Trials held at the Trials Division are open to the public. Parties may be represented by counsel or other representatives and may also represent themselves. Most of the cases are initially conferenced by an Administrative Law Judge and cases that are not settled continue to trial before a different Judge.
OATH trials generally follow a traditional trial sequence: opening statements, petitioner presents its direct case, subject to cross-examination by respondent, respondent may present its case followed by cross-examination by petitioner. Each side may make closing arguments or submit post-trial briefs if requested by the Judge. OATH's Trials Division also utilizes videoconferencing when appropriate to take the testimony of out-of-town witnesses.
Petitioners must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence - the same standard usually applied in civil lawsuits. Digital audio recordings of trials and transcripts are made for use by the Judges in making their decisions, and for use in any appeals.
OATH proceedings are governed by its rules of practice, published in title 48 of the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY) and accessible on OATH's website.
OATH decisions include findings of fact, conclusions of law, and relief. For most cases, OATH's Trials Division prepares recommended fact-findings, legal conclusions, and relief for review by the deciding authority, usually the head of the agency that referred the case. For other cases such as Krimstock cases and city contract dispute cases, OATH Judges issue decisions which can be appealed only to the New York State Supreme Court.
The vast majority of OATH's Trials' Division decisions are sustained by agency heads and appellate tribunals. In 2016, agency heads adopted 99 percent of OATH's findings. OATH's Trials' Division decisions also enjoy a high adoption rate before the City Civil Service Commission and in the State courts.
As part of its mission to improve administrative adjudication and promote greater transparency of City government action, OATH decisions are available on the Internet free of charge to aid parties, attorneys and others in researching administrative law issues. This website was developed in cooperation with the Center for New York City Law. The website offers both summaries and full text versions of all OATH decisions, both past and present. OATH's Trials Division also maintains its' own database for decisions issued after 2004.
OATH is proud to offer this innovation to the New York City legal community. We encourage all who use it to contact us with comments and suggestions for improvements.