• Administrative Law: A type of law that defines the powers, limitations, and procedures of government agencies.
  • Administrative Law Judge (ALJ): The judge in a hearing that deals with issues of  administrative law. This term is also defined in Tenn. Comp. R. & Reg. 1360-04-01-.02. and Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-102(1). The terms Administrative Judge and Administrative Law Judge are generally used interchangeably.  
  • Administrative Procedures Division (APD): A division of the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office which employs Administrative Law Judges to conduct hearings involving government agencies. This term is also defined in Tenn. Comp. R. & Reg. 1360-04-01-.02.
  • Answer: The respondent’s written response to the petitioner's complaint. If required, an answer must be filed within a specified period, and it either admits to or denies the facts or legal basis for the complaint.
  • Appeal: A request to a higher court to overturn the legal ruling of a lower court.  In an administrative proceeding, an appeal is sometimes taken to a decision-maker within the administrative agency, and then through the court system.  For other cases, an appeal can be made directly to the higher court.


  • Burden of Proof: The responsibility of proving a fact or issue that is in dispute between the parties.  The details of burden of proof can be a complicated legal issue, are very dependent upon the specifics of the case, and can be debated by the parties in a case.  For a more thorough definition, see Tenn. Comp. R. & Reg. 1360-04-01-.02.


  • Case Number: The case number is a reference number generated at the time a case is opened with APD.  This case number should be included on all documents filed in the case.
  • Case Type: The case type refers to the government agency involved in the case and the specific matter being decided.  For example, a “Board of Nursing” case type refers to a case with the Department of Health regarding nursing licensure.  A case type is identified by the first four numbers in the case number.
  • Central Panel: An office of judges employed by a separate division of government and centralized to hear cases for multiple administrative agencies.  In a central panel, judges hear a variety of case types and generally do not specialize on one specific case type.  Utilizing a central panel is generally viewed as an effort to eliminate bias and to promote efficiency.  APD is a central panel of administrative judges.
  • Civil Forfeiture: The seizure of property, which may include vehicles, money, and other miscellaneous property, by a law enforcement agency.  This seizure occurs due to that property’s alleged involvement in a criminal act, such as illegal possession of narcotics or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI).
  • Continuance: Postponing a hearing or other court proceeding.  Each continuance is made on a case-by-case basis at the court’s discretion.
  • Continuance Order: An order issued by an ALJ granting a postponement of a hearing or other court proceeding.
  • Conservator: A person appointed to assume responsibility (conservatorship) for an incompetent adult.
  • Counsel: A legal adviser; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case.
  • Court Reporter: The person who, in court proceedings, records and prepares a written transcript of the proceedings.
  • Cross-Examine: The examination of a witness who has already testified in order to check or discredit the witness's testimony, knowledge, or credibility.


  • Default: Failure of a party to appear for a court proceeding to present their case.
  • Default Judgment: A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear for a court proceeding to present their case.
  • De novo: A legal term meaning that the case will start anew or fresh from the beginning and the judge will decide the matter without being required to defer to previous decisions made by a different agency regarding the same case.
  • Discovery: A process prior to a trial in which both sides of a case exchange facts and information about the case.
  • Dismissal: The termination of a case by a court's finding that the case should not be permitted to proceed.
  • Dismissal With Prejudice: When a case is dismissed for good reason and the petitioner is barred from bringing any future action on the same claim.
  • Dismissal Without Prejudice: When a case is dismissed but the petitioner is allowed to bring a new suit on the same claim.
  • Due Process: The concept that laws and legal proceedings must be fair and must proceed according to established laws and rules.


  • Evidence: Information presented by the parties in a case through testimony or through documents that is used to decide the case.
  • Exhibit: A document, photograph, or object formally introduced as evidence in a legal proceeding. The ALJ will decide what evidence is allowed to be introduced as exhibits.
  • Ex parte Communication: Any communication between a party to a case and the ALJ assigned to hear that case which does not include the opposing party.  Ex parte communication is not allowed.  All communication between the judge and a party to a case must include the opposing party or their legal counsel.


  • Filing: A written document properly submitted to the court.  These documents are kept on file and become part of the official record in a case.



  • Hearing: A formal proceeding at which parties to a case may present witness testimony and exhibits to an ALJ or to a Board or a Commission to decide issues of law or of fact.


  • Indigent: Needy or impoverished.  A respondent may be required to demonstrate his or her indigence to the court if they are arguing that they cannot afford to pay certain fees.


  • Mediation: 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 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.
  • Motion: A request made to a judge seeking a ruling or order in favor of the requesting party.
  • Motion to Continue: A request made to a judge to postpone the date of a hearing, often because the requesting party is unable to attend a hearing on that date.
  • Motion to Dismiss: A request made to a judge asserting that even if all the allegations are true, the other party is not entitled to any legal relief and the case should be dismissed.


  • Notice of Appearance: A written document filed in a case that confirms an attorney’s participation in the case.
  • Notice of Hearing: A written document filed in a case that explains when and where a hearing will be held.
  • Notice of Hearing and Charges: A written document filed in a case that explains when and where a hearing will be held, and describes the charges being made in the case.


  • Order: A written decision by a judge (or by the board or commission if the case is before a board or commission) that states a ruling or resolves a dispute between the parties.  An order can be issued on a procedural question during the life of the case and will be issued to outline the final decision.  This term is also defined in Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-5-102(7).


  • Party: One of the participants in a case who has an interest in the outcome.
  • Petitioner: The party who initiates the appeal, often called the plaintiff in civil cases.  This term is also defined at Tenn. Comp. R. & Reg. 1360-04-01-.02.
  • Petition for Reconsideration (PFR): A written request filed with APD after the conclusion of a case asking the judge to reconsider the decision that was made for the case.  The specific reasons for making the request must be included in the petition.
  • Pleading: A document filed in a case that state a party's basic positions.  The initial pleading sets out the petitioner’s version of the facts and specifies the relief requested and frames the issue(s) of the case.  This term is further defined at Tenn. Comp. R. & Reg. 1360-04-01-.02.
  • Pre-Hearing Conference: A conference between the ALJ and the parties prior to a hearing, often resulting in agreements or decisions concerning evidence, witnesses, pre-hearing filing deadlines, and hearing dates.
  • Proceeding:  A legal case or a step in the case.
  • Pro Se Litigant: A person who represents him/herself in court alone without the help of a lawyer. Also commonly referred to as a Self-Represented Party.


  • Record: A record of the proceedings, including all filings, orders, a transcript of the hearing, and exhibits.  Also known as the Technical Record.
  • Respondent: The party defending or denying a suit, often called the defendant in civil cases.   This term is further defined at Tenn. Comp. R. & Reg. 1360-04-01-.02.
  • Response: When one party files a motion, the opposing party has a certain time period in which they may file a written document in response to the motion.
  • Rules of Evidence: Standards governing whether evidence will be allowed to be considered in the case.


  • Scheduling Order: An order issued by the ALJ that indicates the various obligations of both parties, sets deadlines for when certain things are to be completed, and provides further instructions.  For example, the scheduling order often sets dates for filings, deadlines for discovery, and the date the hearing will start.
  • Self-Represented Party: A person who represents him/herself in court alone without the help of a lawyer. Also known as Pro Se Litigant.
  • Service: Delivering a copy of documents filed with APD to the other party in the case.  See Tenn. Comp. R. & Reg. 1360-04-01-.03(4) and Tenn. R. Civ. P. 4 for more details.
  • Statute: A law adopted by a legislative body. In Tennessee, statutes or laws are adopted by the Tennessee General Assembly.
  • Subpoena: An order compelling a person to appear to testify or produce documents (called a subpoena duces tecum when requesting documents).


  • Technical Record: A record of the proceedings, including all filings, orders, a transcript of the hearing, and exhibits. Also known as the Record.
  • Transcript: A written copy of spoken language.  A court reporter may participate in a hearing or a pre-hearing conference in order to make a written copy (transcript) of the oral hearing or pre-hearing conference.


  • Uniform Administrative Procedure Act (UAPA): A comprehensive law that guides the Administrative Procedures Division in how we conduct contested cases.


  • Witness: A person who testifies under oath.