New York City's Tribunals

New York City's tribunals are designed so that people can easily navigate the hearing process and participate in a meaningful way. AJC assists, advises and coordinates the following tribunals:

Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH)

Jurisdiction: The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) is an independent administrative tribunal that comprises two divisions, the Trial Division and the Hearings Division. The Trial Division has broad general jurisdiction over administrative matters involving City agencies. Its administrative law judges most frequently hear cases involving discipline of City employees and return of vehicles seized by the NYPD. City agencies also refer various matters relating to their licensing, regulatory, and enforcement authority, including the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the Loft Board, the Business Integrity Commission, and the City Commission on Human Rights. Trial Division administrative law judges hear cases involving City contractors, including the final resolution of contract disputes heard by the Contract Dispute Resolution Board. The Hearings Division adjudicates challenges to summonses issued by City enforcement agencies, including the Departments of Buildings, Consumer Affairs, Environmental Protection, Fire, Health, Information Technology and Telecommunication, Parks, Police, Sanitation, and Transportation, and the Business Integrity, Landmarks Preservation, and Taxi and Limousine Commissions.

Hearings: Trial Division hearings are more formal than those held in most other City tribunals, and many respondents choose professional representation. The annual caseload for the Trial Division is about 2,500. Trial Division hearings are conducted at OATH's main office in lower Manhattan. Hearings Division hearings are less formal. A party may bring an attorney or other representative to the hearing, but most respondents choose to represent themselves. The Hearings Division has five locations for in-person hearings, one in each borough. Respondents in most cases before the Hearings Division also have the option of a hearing by mail, by telephone, or online. The Hearings Division's annual caseload is about 250,000.

Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers: The Trial Division is staffed by 11 administrative law judges who are full-time and appointed by the Commissioner/Chief Administrative Law Judge of OATH to serve a five-year term. The Hearings Division is staffed by over 250 part- and full-time hearing officers.

Decisions: Trials Division hearings may result in penalties including a range of fines, monetary damage awards, compensatory damages, affirmative relief, vehicle seizure, employee termination, and suspension or revocation of licenses. Decisions are published. Hearings Division hearings may result in a broad range of penalties, but not license revocations. Appeals decisions are available online.

In addition to functioning as a central tribunal, OATH administers the Administrative Judicial Institute and the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution. The Institute has been created as a resource center to provide training, continuing education, research, and support services for administrative law judges, hearing officers, and tribunals throughout the City. The Center for Creative Conflict Resolution serves as the City government's center for mediation and related approaches to resolving disputes. For more information on each of these programs, please see the links below:

Adjudication Division, Department of Finance (DOF)

Jurisdiction: The Adjudication Division of DOF provides a forum for operators and owners of commercial and passenger vehicles to contest summonses issued for parking violations, red light camera violations, speed camera violations, and bus lane violations. Approximately two million summonses are issued annually. The tribunal also hears and decides appeals from administrative law judges' decisions.

Hearings: Hearings are informal and available online, by mail, or in person at the Finance Business Centers located in each of the five boroughs. In-person hearings are conducted on a walk-in basis, and most parties represent themselves.

Administrative Law Judges: The Division is staffed by approximately 100 full- or part-time administrative law judges.

Decisions: Fines range from $45 to $180 for passenger vehicles to a high of $500 for commercial vehicles. In person decisions are issued immediately upon completion of the hearing. Decisions are not generally published.

Office of Administrative Tax Appeals (OATA)

Jurisdiction: The Office of Administrative Tax Appeals includes the New York City Tax Appeals Tribunal and the New York City Tax Commission. The Tax Appeals Tribunal has jurisdiction to hear disputes between taxpayers and the Department of Finance arising from all City taxes, other than those administered by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (for example, the City's personal income tax and sales and use taxes) and those levied on real property. The Tax Commission reviews and determines annual applications for correction of assessment filed by property owners and other parties with a sufficient legal interest in properties they claim are incorrectly assessed or improperly denied an exemption from real property tax.

Hearings: Most taxpayers are represented by an attorney or an accountant before the Tax Appeals Tribunal. At the Tax Commission, taxpayers who are representing themselves or professionally represented may present real property tax assessment-related claims subject to formal administrative review and corrective action by the Commission, in particular: (1) excessive assessment; (2) misclassification; (3) unequal assessment; and (4) unlawful assessment.

Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers: The Tax Appeals Tribunal employs four administrative law judges in its Administrative Law Division and three commissioners in its Appeals Division. The Tax Commission is made up of a president, six commissioners and 12 non-attorney hearing officers who are responsible for evaluating the applications.

Decisions: Determinations of the Tribunal can confirm, dismiss, or modify the action of the Department of Finance that is the subject of the case. Decisions of the Commission can result in adjustments of the assessed value of the property at issue.

Office of Impartial Hearings, Department of Education (DOE)

Jurisdiction: The Office of Impartial Hearings processes requests for impartial hearings regarding disagreements between parents and DOE concerning the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities (ages 3-21), pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Hearings: Many parents are represented by attorneys or advocates at hearings, which are conducted by impartial hearing officers (IHOs).

Hearing Officers: New York State Regulations require that each school district maintain a rotational selection list of Impartial Hearing Officers (IHOs). In New York City, the DOE Office of Impartial Hearings maintains a list of 77 impartial hearing officers certified by the NYS Department of Education. Attorneys who serve as IHOs are not employees of the NYC Department of Education or of the State but serve as independent contractors and may have other employment.

Decisions: The IHO can dismiss the case or grant the relief requested. Types of relief can include the provision of special transportation, out of classroom services (speech or physical therapy), or reimbursement for the cost of private education. Decisions are confidential but may be published with redactions. They may be lengthy and include extended legal analysis.

Office of Impartial Hearings, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)

Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of the Office of Impartial Hearings includes the authority to hear cases regarding termination of tenancy, Remaining Family Member Grievance, Rent Rate Grievance, Section 8 Termination, and Section 8 Share-of-Subsidy, and cases involving public housing and Section 8 applicants determined to be ineligible who are seeking to be added to the Authority's waiting list.

Hearing Officers: Hearing officers assigned to the Office of Impartial Hearings are full-time NYCHA employees.