Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/617100
39 Winter 2015–2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings receive special civil service protections and can expect a full career; that is, they are not term- limited. Coast Guard administrative law judges also function as the Department of Homeland Security's administrative judiciary. They con- duct formal proceedings in cases initiated by the department's agency components, such as the Transportation Security Administration. As time and availability permit, Coast Guard judges also adjudicate cases for other agen- cies on a reimbursable basis to support OPM's ALJ loan program. 5 For example, Coast Guard judges helped the special master of the Septem- ber 11 th Victim Compensation Fund adjudicate claims. This type of assistance brings timely, cost-effective resolution to the requesting agency's pending cases and broadens and enhances the Coast Guard judges' analytical and adjudicatory skills. Investigating Offcers Investigating offcers traditionally represented the Coast Guard in suspension and revocation proceedings. While they were not required to be attorneys, formal S&R proceed- ings are adversarial, requiring the Coast Guard representa- tive to exercise attorney-like trial advocacy skills as well as substantial suspension and revocation case law knowledge. Though the investigating offcers were very well trained, some situations required knowledge, skills, and abilities they hadn't yet had the opportunity to acquire, given the limited amount of time in the position, the press of other casualty investigations, and the infrequency of contested hearings. Despite the investigating offcer's advanced train- ing and expertise, some legal situations develop during the proceedings that necessitate the appearance and participa- tion of an attorney. The Coast Guard addressed this issue by having some attorneys serve on rotational tours as inves- tigating offcers and assigning attorneys from other com- mands on an "as needed" basis to litigate cases involving unique legal issues. Having attorneys serve on rotational tours as investigating offcers and assigning attorneys from other commands on an "as-needed" basis addressed this issue, but there remained a growing, servicewide need for consistent and reliable S&R expertise. The S&R NCOE now meets that need. Since it has been in existence, investigating offcers have had a con- sistent source of knowledge, skills, and abilities to draw from. An attorney from the Suspension and Revocation National Center of Expertise can provide comprehensive representation throughout the proceedings. Representation may include responding to pre-hearing motions, presenting evidence during the hearing before the administrative law judge, and/or preparing post-hearing and appellate briefs. When attorneys present S&R cases, they ensure the appro- priate level of professionalism and preparedness for these formal, civil administrative proceedings. Their representa- tion also promotes fairness, minimizes errors in law, and ensures cases are adjudicated in accordance with Congress' intent. Drafting Complaints Inadequately drafted complaints may require the time-con- suming process of redrafting the allegations and issuing an amended complaint. Further, proposed sanctions may vary greatly, often resulting in widely different results imposed for the same offense. In response, the S&R NCOE now reviews complaints to ensure legal suffciency and consistency in proposed sanc- tions. Clear and legally suffcient complaints drafted cor- rectly and consistently the frst time puts the respondent on notice of the proscribed conduct and provides a frm basis to prepare a defense. It also eliminates delays incurred amend- ing the complaint and promotes consistency in sanctions. Consistent sanctions promote fairness. Case Presentation Presentations of evidence in hearings before administrative law judges refect the degree of the investigating offcer's pre-hearing preparation and his/her level of S&R experi- ence. Typically, investigating offcers aren't in their assign- ments for a period of time suffcient to obtain legal knowl- edge or gain adequate experience in prosecuting cases. With most cases being disposed of by settlement, a majority of investigating offcers never get the opportunity to put on Chief Judge Brudzinski conducts a suspension and revocation hearing. Photo by Ms. Megan H. Allison, director of judicial administration, Offce of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, U.S. Coast Guard.