Contacting an Administrative Law Judge
As the presiding officer in a contested case proceeding, an administrative law judge (ALJ) has an obligation to fairly and impartially decide the case based on the evidence and presented at the evidentiary hearing and after providing all parties notice and the opportunity to be heard.
Parties or their representatives are generally prohibited from communicating directly or indirectly with the ALJ assigned to their case in connection with any issue of fact or law in the contested case except upon notice and opportunity for all parties to participate, such as during the scheduled hearing. This is known as prohibited ex parte communication. See Iowa Code § 17A.17(2). An ALJ is also unable to provide legal advice to parties.
Accordingly, parties are strongly encouraged to contact ALJ only in writing, by email, fax, or hard-copy, while simultaneously providing a copy of the communication to all other parties in the case. Parties should not telephone an ALJ unless the request is time-sensitive, the party is unable to submit an email, fax, or hard-copy document, or the party is merely confirming receipt of the previous written submission. Parties may never discuss the facts or law of their case or ask for legal advice, but may engage in telephone conversations if necessary to request an in-person hearing, request to reschedule the hearing, arrange for an interpreter, or to inquire about other procedural matters.
If an ALJ receives prohibited ex parte communication, the ALJ will provide the written communication or a record of any oral communication to all other parties and include such communication in the official record of the case, and any other party may request the opportunity to respond to the communication within ten days. The party making a prohibited communication may be sanctioned, and in extraordinary situations the ALJ may be disqualified from presiding over the case. See Iowa Code § 17A.17(4)-(6).
Contact information for individual administrative law judges and the Division leadership is available in the Division Directory.