Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A factual demonstration to support allegations that an individual was denied a fair hearing by an administrative tribunal is critical to rebutting the presumption of honesty and integrity accorded to administrative bodies


Dutrow v New York State Racing & Wagering Bd., 2012 NY Slip Op 05699, Appellate Division, Third Department

One of the issues in this appeal challenging a disciplinary action taken against an individual by the New York State Racing & Wagering Board was a claim that the target of a disciplinary action by the Board was deprived of a fair hearing as a result of the refusal of Board’s chair, John Sabini, to recuse himself from the proceeding.
Sabini, in addition to serving as the Board’s chair, was an unpaid officer of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, an organization devoted to maintaining a multi-jurisdictional database of licensed horse racing professionals' disciplinary histories.Sabini, however, had no prior official involvement with, and made no appearance in, this case stemming from his position with the Association. 
The Association’s president, however, had informed Sabini that a United States Senator's office had inquired about the case. The Association's president also had publicly urged the Board to assess individual’s "suitability to continue his participation in racing." The court, however, observed that [1] Sabini was not bound to follow any suggestions made by the Association or its president and [2] there was nothing in the record indicating that Sabini took any action based upon these communications or otherwise "gave the impression that [he] had prejudged the facts."
The Appellate Division said that such a “bare allegation” that these communications led to bias is insufficient absent "a factual demonstration to support the allegation . . . and proof that the [adverse] outcome flowed from it."
As the accused individual had failed, in the words of the court, "to rebut the presumption of honesty and integrity accorded to administrative bodies," the Appellate Division held “it cannot be said that he was denied a fair hearing.
The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Reprinted by permission New York Public Personnel Law

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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