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Reappointment: How Often Are Administrative Law Judges Affirmed On Appeal

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Reappointment: How often are Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) affirmed on appeal?

Almost half of our Administrative Law Judges ("ALJs") are up for reappointment at the end of this year, which will be the end of Governor Beshear's term. The list includes ALJs Allen, Borders, Davis, Gott, Roark, Rudloff, Weatherby and Williams. As part of the reappointment process, we should consider their track record. One way to do this is to look at how often an ALJ is (a) appealed and (b) affirmed on appeal. The first measure shows how often a party feels aggrieved enough to appeal through the Board to the Court of Appeals ("COA") and even to the Supreme Court, this takes time and money. This is not to say that every appeal is a good one, but if you compare it against the total number of appeals we see where an ALJ falls against his/her peers. The second measure, of course, is how often a group of appellate judges believe that the ALJ properly applied the law.

This article delves into those numbers, pulled from this year's COA and Supreme Court decisions through August 28, 2015. While I'm not suggesting that this should be the sole criteria, it is quite telling on the far ends of the spectrum. (Please note that in the event that an ALJ was affirmed in part, reversed in part, the decision was considered a reversal. Sorry, no half credit.)

As of this writing, the COA issued 55 opinions on decisions from our ALJs. The Supreme Court issued 20 (six in August alone). In total, that's 75 opinions. Thirteen of the seventeen currently-serving ALJs have received a decision from the COA and/or Supreme Court. On average, ALJs are affirmed 68% of the time; this applies to all ALJs whether they are up for reappointment or not. Regardless of reappointment status, how do they fair individually?

Who gets appealed the least? ALJ Borders, with only one appeal. ALJs Gott, Roark, Swisher and Weatherby are next with only two appeals each. ALJs Case, Kinney and Levy have zero, but are recent appointments.

Who gets appealed the most? ALJ Rudloff. Sixteen percent of all worker's compensation appeals stem from a decision handed down by ALJ Rudloff. For second place there is a tie between ALJ Davis and Wolff; each was appealed nine times.

Who is affirmed the most? ALJs Allen (4/4), Bolton (4/4), Borders (1/1), Coleman (4/4), Gott (2/2), Polites (5/5) and Roark (2/2). None have been reversed this year.

Who is affirmed the least? ALJ Rudloff. He was affirmed only 25% of the time (3/12). ALJ Williams was affirmed 40% of the time (2/5).

For those that are up for reappointment, using these metrics, who should be reappointed and who should not?

Reappointment: Allen (4/4), Borders (1/1); Gott (2/2); Roark (2/2); Weatherby (1/1).

No reappointment: Rudloff (3/12).

The far ends of the spectrum are truly telling. The least appealed ALJ's are generally the most affirmed. Those are the ALJs we want deciding our cases for another four years.

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