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While in previous eras the citizen worried only about the sheriff and the tax collector, he must now often face the power and authority of a multitude of other authorities.
Most citizens' disputes with government agencies are resolved within the agencies themselves, not by local, state, or federal courts. Kenneth Davis, author of the highly respected five-volume Administrative Law Treatise, estimates that up to 93 percent of all disputes are resolved in federal agency settings rather than in federal court settings.
Most federal agencies effectively prohibit a citizen from taking a dispute between himself and the agency to an independent federal judge until he has exhausted his "administrative remedies." This "exhaustion of administrative remedies" requirement allows a federal agency to hold citizens or companies hostage for years, causing them to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees regardless of how dubious the government's position may be.
The General Accounting Office reported in 1992 that administrative law judges in six federal agencies believed that the agency had attempted to "compromise their independence." One administrative law judge at the Interior Department told the ABA Journal: "We do operate in a wholly vindictive and retaliatory environment."
Originally posted by lonegurkha
Excellent thread topic S&F.
And here we thought all courts were fair and unbiased.
Civil penalties occupy a strange place in some legal systems - because they are not criminal penalties, the state need not meet a burden of proof that is "beyond a reasonable doubt"; but because the action is brought by the government, and some civil penalties can run into the millions of dollars, it would be uncomfortable to subject citizens to them by a burden of proof that is merely a "preponderance of the evidence." Therefore, the assessment of most civil penalties requires a finding of "clear and convincing evidence" before a civil defendant will be held liable. A defendant may well raise excuses, justifications, affirmative defenses, and procedural defenses. An administrative law judge or hearing officer may oversee the proceedings and render a judgment. Judgment is made on the balance of probabilities. Meaning, if it is more than 50% likely that the accused is responsible then the accused shall be found guilty.
curfew violation Decatur, Ill.- ordered to pay a $250 fine, plus $140 in hearing costs.
When the City of Chicago determines that an ordinance violation has occurred, it will serve (in-person or by mail) the party responsible for the alleged violation with a Notice of Violation ("Notice") outlining the city's allegations.
If you ignore the Notice, a hearing officer may enter a Default Judgment against you based on the evidence presented. A "Default Judgment" is similar to a Judge's order in that it can be used to place a lien on your property, garnish your wages and/or affect your credit. The city usually requests that the maximum fine be imposed in default matters.