Frequently Asked Questions for this Division

About APD

  • How do I contact APD?

    Contact information for APD is provided here

  • How do I contact other State Agencies?

    For some questions you may have regarding your case, you may be instructed that your question is better directed to the government agency that is the opposing party in your case rather than to APD. You should direct those questions to the opposing attorney who represents the government agency or contact the government agency using the contact information contained in your Notice of Hearing or Notice of Hearing and Charges.

    One example may be a question regarding how you are to pay the cost for your case. APD charges each government agency based upon the hours spent on each case. Each government agency has different rules and policies on if they can then in turn charge the petitioner. If you have been billed for your case, you would have been billed by the government agency involved in your case, not by APD. Questions regarding those charges should, therefore, be addressed to the government agency involved in your case.  

     

  • How is a case initiated?

    Cases are opened with the Administrative Procedures Division (APD) by the state or local government agency for whom APD is hearing the case.  An individual or business who wants to appeal a government agency’s ruling will file an appeal with that agency.  The agency then refers that appeal to APD.  Individuals do not open cases directly with APD.

    • For example, if a property owner wants to appeal their county property tax, the owner will file an appeal with the respective county’s board of equalization.  If the property owner wants to appeal further, beyond the county, then the property owner will file an appeal with the State Board of Equalization.  It is the State Board of Equalization that then refers the appeal and opens a case with APD.
    • For another example, if someone is denied coverage of a medical service by TennCare and wants to appeal that denial, that individual will appeal to TennCare.  TennCare will then refer the appeal and open a case with APD.
    • There are two exceptions to this process:  1) an individual property owner and a municipality disagree as to whether the property has been annexed by the municipality (TCA 8-3-102).  For these cases, the property owner or the municipality may file a complaint against the opposing party with the secretary of state.  2) a public official challenges a fraudulent lien against his or her property (TCA 47-9-513).  For these cases, the office where the lien is being filed forwards the challenge to APD.  

     

  • What types of cases does APD hear and how many?

    APD considers cases from most state agencies, various city and county governmental agencies, and state universities resulting in over 430 different types of cases.  On average over 8,100 cases are referred to APD each year.  The majority of these cases involve property tax appeals, TennCare appeals, and appeals from the seizure of an individual’s assets.

  • Where can I file a complaint or share a concern?

    If you want to appeal the decision made in your case, then you should follow the instructions given here and as attached to your order.

    If you are concerned about the ethics, demeanor, or conduct of APD employees, including APD support staff or ALJs, then please send your complaint in writing to the Director of APD.

     

  • Where does APD get its authority?

    Generally, APD gets its authority from the Tennessee General Assembly through the laws they adopt, specifically the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) (Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-101, et seq.)  In addition, many Tennessee statutes require state agencies to comply with the UAPA in conducting certain types of cases.  For example, the TEAM Act requires that certain state employee disciplinary cases be conducted in accordance with the UAPA (Tenn. Code Ann. §8-30-318) and the Department of Safety and Homeland Security must conduct procedures about property that might be forfeited to the State under the provisions of the UAPA (Tenn. Code Ann. §8-30-318).  APD also contracts with local governments to conduct employee disciplinary proceedings and with colleges and universities to hold hearings required by Title IX. 

     

  • Who does APD work for?

    APD is a division of the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, which is within the Legislative Branch of Tennessee state government. APD employs a central panel of judges who are independent of the Executive Branch and the agencies whose cases are heard before them.  This independence ensures that an extra layer of due process protection is afforded to all parties involved in each case.

  • Who pays for cases heard by APD?

    APD is partially funded through the Secretary of State’s budget as allocated by the Tennessee General Assembly. In addition, APD charges government agencies $200 to open a case and $100 per hour, after the first two hours, for a judge’s time spent on an individual case. Each government agency and type of case may have specific rules that determine if and how that government agency may recoup some of the costs of a case from the other party.

Administrative Hearings

  • Do I have to file anything with the Administrative Procedures Division before the hearing?

    For  Tenncare and Safety cases, you typically do not have to file anything with APD before the hearing unless you are specifically directed to do so by the judge.

    For other case types, you may be required to file a Witness and Exhibit List, or other documents as directed by the ALJ assigned to your case. Please refer to the orders issued in your case for specific information.

    Please note, if the opposing party in your case files a motion, APD’s rules allow seven days for you to file a response to that motion.

     

  • Do I need an attorney or may I represent myself?

    You may represent yourself.  You are not required to have an attorney and you are not entitled to have an attorney appointed for you.  You may, however, hire an attorney to represent you at your own expense.

    Cases before APD are official legal proceedings and they can be complicated.  We understand that, and we try to make the process, hearings, and orders as straightforward as possible.  However, we also encourage those with complicated cases and who cannot afford an attorney to reach out to your local bar association or Legal Aid Society in your county or region.

    Regarding businesses that may be a party in a case … if you are the owner of a sole proprietorship, you may also self-represent your business.  If a party in a case is a separate legal entity, such as an LLC or corporation, representatives of those business entities may testify in hearings.  However, those representatives may not act as an attorney for cross-examination of witnesses, make opening or closing statements, etc. 

  • Do you offer hearings in other languages besides English? How can I participate in my case if I don’t speak English as my primary language?

    APD does not offer hearings or mediations in other languages besides English nor does APD directly employ translators or interpreters.  However, typically, the government agency involved in your case will provide an interpreter for a pre-hearing conference, mediation, or hearing if an interpreter is needed and requested.  If you are having a hard time fully understanding all that is being discussed in your case, you should request that an interpreter be provided.

    To request interpretation services, please notify the judge assigned to your case.  If you do not yet have a judge assigned to your case, you can notify APD that you need translation services by emailing apd.filings@tn.gov or by calling 615-741-7008.  Please note, if you call by telephone, APD does not have the ability to answer the call in other languages besides English.

  • How can I contact the Judge to discuss my case?

     If you wish to contact the ALJ assigned to your case, you may email the ALJ. However, you must also include the other parties in the case on your email. Failure to include the other parties in your email is inappropriate ex parte communications. If you do not have contact information for the ALJ assigned to your case, please contact APD.

  • How is an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to a case?

    Generally, ALJs are initially assigned to individual cases either by rotation or randomization, depending on the case type.  Those case types with a larger volume of cases before APD are randomly assigned amongst the pool of judges.  For these case types, if a hearing is continued or rescheduled, the case may be reassigned to another ALJ.  Case types with a smaller volume of cases before APD are assigned by rotation amongst the ALJs.  If a hearings is rescheduled for one of these cases, the case usually stays with the initial ALJ.

  • How soon should I expect a decision in my case?

    Generally, hearing decisions are rendered within 90 days from the date the record closes, however, there are many exceptions based on the type of case and whether a rule or statute specifically addresses decision timelines.  More specific information about when a decision will be made in your case may be discussed with the ALJ during your hearing.

  • How will mediation affect my case?

    If you wish to pursue mediation in addition to a due process hearing, you will be assigned two case numbers – one case number for your mediation and a different case number for your due process case. Two different ALJs will be assigned to the two tracks of your case – one ALJ for your mediation and a different ALJ for your due process case. This is to prevent statements that are made and discussions that may happen during the mediation from affecting the ruling of the ALJ in your due process hearing. If you have both a mediation and a due process case with APD, your due process case may be postponed until the conclusion of your mediation.

  • I already missed my hearing. Now what happens? Can I get another hearing?

    If you missed your hearing, you can contact the opposing party or APD to ask about the status of your case. As a result of your absence, the ALJ may have already ruled that you are in default and dismissed the case. Or, the ALJ may have continued the hearing to another date. Either way, you should receive a written order explaining the ALJ’s ruling. If your case has been dismissed and you want to challenge that ruling, you can file a Petition for Reconsideration, explaining why you missed the hearing. 

  • I received a bill for my case. How do I pay that?

    If you have been billed for your case, you would have been billed by the government agency involved in your case, not by APD. Questions regarding those charges or payment should, therefore, be addressed to the government agency involved in your case. Payment should not be sent to APD.

  • I see that I have to “serve” the other party my documents. How do I do that?

    Service may be by mail, by electronic mail in the manner provided by the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure, or by hand delivery. See TENN. COMP. R.

  • I was told I need to pay a fee to get my car (or other property or license) back. How do I pay that?

    The resolution of many cases may impose a fee on the petitioner.  You should contact the government agency that was involved in your case for payment instructions. APD does not collect these fees and payment should not be made to APD.

    Examples may include a fee to get a car or other property returned to you after it was seized by a law enforcement agency or a fee to have your professional license reinstated after it has been suspended.

     

  • The other side wants to mediate. Should I agree to that or is it better to go to hearing?

    APD and our ALJs cannot give you legal advice. If you are debating between a hearing and mediation, you may want to seek legal counsel.

    However, a few important things to know …

    • Mediation is not required. It is voluntary. Both sides must agree to try mediation.
    • You can have both mediation and a hearing. If you want to try mediation first, then your hearing may be postponed until the resolution of your mediation. If your mediation is unsuccessful and you are not able to reach a mutual agreement between the parties, then you can continue to pursue the more formal avenue of a hearing.
    • For mediation to be successful, both parties must agree on the final resolution of the dispute. In a hearing, the parties do not get a say in how the judge or the board or commission rules.

     

  • What if I am not satisfied with my result?

    If you disagree with the judge’s decision in your case, you may file a Petition for Reconsideration (PFR) or an appeal.  Usually, a PFR is decided by the judge who initially heard your case.  If you appeal an Initial Order, the case will go back to the agency where the case started for a decision and that agency will issue a Final Order.  A Final Order (whether issued by the ALJ or the agency) may be appealed through the courts, usually starting with Chancery Court.  All Initial and Final Orders will have specific information about how to file a PFR or an appeal.  Different cases have different rules about when and where you can file a PFR or an appeal so you MUST check the Notice of Appeal Procedures attached to your order.  

  • What if I can’t be at the hearing on the scheduled day?

    If you are unable to attend your scheduled hearing, you will need to request a continuance. Preferably, you can first contact the opposing party to discuss your need for a continuance. If you can mutually agree upon a new date, then both parties can file a joint motion for continuance. If you are unable to contact the other party or are unable to reach a mutual agreement for a continuance, then you may file a Motion for Continuance with APD. Both a joint motion or an individual Motion for Continuance should include the specific reasons why the party or parties cannot attend the scheduled hearing and need a new hearing date. In both scenarios, it is up to the ALJ whether or not the request for a continuance will be granted.

  • What if I want an attorney but can’t afford one? Will an attorney be provided for me?

    Unlike cases in criminal court, you are not entitled to have an attorney appointed for your administrative case before APD. You may, however, hire an attorney to represent you at your own expense.

    Cases before APD are official legal proceedings and they can be complicated. We understand that, and we try to make the process, hearings, and orders as straightforward as possible. However, we also encourage those with complicated cases and who cannot afford an attorney to reach out to your local bar association or Legal Aid Society in your county or region.

  • What is an Administrative Hearing?

    An administrative hearing involves a dispute over the administration or implementation of government laws and rules. An administrative hearing is conducted in basically the same way as a trial with both parties presenting evidence to an Administrative Judge or to a board or commission.

  • What is the difference between mediation and a hearing?

    Mediation is an alternative method for trying to resolve a legal dispute, rather than going to a formal hearing, in which a mediator helps disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable solution to their differences in their case. If the parties request mediation, a different ALJ other than the one assigned to the due process case will serve as the mediator.

    A hearing is a more formal legal proceeding, much like a trial in court. At the end of a hearing, either the judge or the board or commission will determine the outcome of the case.

     

  • What should I bring to the hearing?

    You should bring all of the documentation you have received since your appeal began, any witnesses you wish to question during the hearing, and anything you wish to introduce as an exhibit (with extra copies) at the hearing.

    Please refer to the orders issued in your case for additional information.

     

  • What will happen if I do not attend the hearing

    If you do not attend your scheduled hearing, the ALJ may rule that you are in default  and dismiss the case. If you want to challenge that ruling, you can file a Petition for Reconsideration , explaining why you missed the hearing.

  • Where are APD cases heard?

    APD conducts hearings and mediations in all 95 counties across Tennessee. These hearings or mediations may be held in-person, by telephone conference call, or by video conferencing, depending upon the case type and the needs of the parties.

  • Where is my hearing?

    Information regarding the location for your hearing should be contained in your Notice of Hearing,  Notice of Hearing and Charges, or Scheduling Order. If you cannot find that information, you can call APD to ask.

  • Who will decide my case?

    In some hearings, the judge alone will hear your case. The judge’s decision will be made in a written order which will be sent to both parties. In some hearings, your case will be heard by a board or commission that is sitting with the judge. In this type of hearing, the board or commission will determine the outcome of the case, while the ALJ makes legal rulings on procedure but does not decide the final outcome.


Administrative Judges

  • Do Administrative Judges specialize in a particular area of the law?

    No, Administrative Judges hear a wide variety of cases.  Judges have experience with the multi-faceted issues presented by each individual case filed with APD.  This approach allows for the greatest amount of flexibility with scheduling and assignment of cases ensuring that hearings and mediations proceed in the most expeditious manner possible.  The one exception to this practice involves State Board of Equalization cases which are primarily assigned to a subset of judges with additional specialized training in that area of the law.

  • How are individuals selected to be Administrative Judges?

    Administrative Judges are hired through a competitive interview process by the Secretary of State.  Open positions for a new Administrative Judge are publicly posted by the Secretary of State’s Human Resources division.

     

  • Is there a difference between Administrative Judge and Administrative Law Judge or ALJ?

    No. The titles Administrative Judge, Administrative Law Judge, and ALJ are used interchangeably.

  • What is an Administrative Judge?

    An Administrative Judge is also known as an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ. The Administrative Judge rules on cases involving administrative disputes (or disputes regarding the administration or implementation of government laws and rules).