by Gene Doyle, LMSW
In a September 29, 2006 letter to People Organized for Our Rights, Inc. (P.O.O.R.), Deputy General Counsel for Administrative Hearings Russell J. Hanks clarified Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) policy "concerning the durational validity of written authorizations of representation by non-attorneys." Mr. Hanks concluded that
"no fixed durational limitation should be imposed automatically, particularly where the authorization in question specifically states that it will remain effective until revoked.
"While the amount of time elapsed from the time of execution of the authorization may, indeed, be a reasonable basis for an inquiry by the ALJ into its current status, the age of the document should not, in general, be the sole basis for concluding that the authorization is no longer valid. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, a sworn statement or affidavit from the representative that the authorization has not been revoked, the appellant is alive, and that there is no knowledge of any present incapacity of the appellant, may be sufficient to allow a hearing to proceed. This position is consistent with that taken in the two fair hearing decisions which you referenced in your letter (FHs # 3911014P and 3521896L)."
Advocacy Tip: Appellants' written authorizations designating non-attorneys to represent them should include the sentence: "This authorization is valid until such time as I revoke it in writing." See sample authorizations for use in New York City and in the Rest of the State.
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