Department of Children and Family Services required to use attorneys in administrative hearings
A Sangamon County judge has entered an order that enjoins the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) from using lay persons to represent it at its administrative hearings. The order, entered by Judge Leslie Graves on June 22, 2004, in the case of Keiser v. Samuels, Docket No. 04 CH 353 (Circuit Court, Sangamon County), indicates that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit had "suffered an injury" from the controversial practice. The plaintiffs were represented by the law firms of Feldman, Wasser, Draper and Benson, and Donald M. Craven, both of Springfield.
The order further provides that the plaintiff and the public are protected by the use of attorneys in administrative hearings, that the Illinois Supreme Court has issued rules that govern the practice of law, that conducting hearings as the "Department Representative" is the practice of law, that the practice of law by non-lawyers causes irreparable harm to the plaintiff and the public at large and, finally, that the plaintiff had met the requirements for a preliminary injunction.
The order concluded that DCFS is prohibited from conducting administrative hearings unless it is represented by an attorney authorized to practice law in the State of Illinois. The matter was scheduled for another hearing on July 12, 2004, but as of November 5, 2004, a final order had not been entered.
At an appearance before the Government Bar Association in Springfield on August 18, 2004, Mr. Bryan Samuels, Director of DCFS, acknowledged entry of the order and confirmed that DCFS was in the process of hiring additional attorneys in order to comply with the court's order.
Secretary of State's Office announces new procedures for administrative hearings
Effective February 1, 2005, the Secretary of State's Department of Administrative Hearings implemented a new policy regarding the form in which documents are to be submitted at administrative hearings held pursuant to the provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/1-100 et seq.) and the rules promulgated thereunder (92 Ill. Adm. Code Part 1001). Under the new standards, which are intended to implement the provisions of 92 Ill. Adm. Code §1001.90, any document admitted into evidence at a hearing must be an "original document," except as otherwise specified. An "original document" is defined to include "a document which bears the original signature of the petitioner and/or author of the document, as applicable." The new standards are intended to apply to uniform reports, updated evaluations, treatment verification information, individualized treatment plans and discharge summaries, continuing care plans, driver risk education forms, faxed documents and other documents which are composed or created for the purpose of being submitted to the Secretary of State. To obtain copies of the new policy or if you have questions regarding the new policy, contact the Secretary of State's Office, Department of Administrative Hearings at 217/782-7065.