administrative law judge -- an attorney appointed to conduct administrative hearings brought by federal agencies in civil cases. Such hearings are often held when a federal agency seeks to decide a contested issue or impose a directive or civil penalty on an individual or an institution. In most cases after conducting the hearing, the administrative law judge sends recommended findings and conclusions to the head of the federal agency, who makes the final decision. The agency head considers the recommendations of the administrative law judge and any briefs submitted by the agency staff and the respondent. The hearings are conducted under rules established by the Administrative Procedures Act. Federal agencies either have their own administrative law judges on staff or borrow them from other agencies when they need to conduct a hearing. The Office of Personnel Management assigns administrative law judges to other agencies upon request. Administrative law judges formerly were called hearing examiners.
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