Representation of Licensees.
A licensee will generally seek representation upon denial of an application for license, notification of a pending investigation or upon being served with an accusation which seeks to impose discipline upon the licensee.
The underlying acts which form the basis of the denial, investigation or disciplinary action can include misstating facts upon an application for a license, prior criminal convictions, prior discipline, alleged negligence, billing irregularities, patient/consumer complaints, allegations of substance abuse (alcohol and/or drugs), allegations of sexual misconduct, allegations of incomplete record keeping, allegations of fraud or allegations of inability to continue practice.
In disciplinary matters, an investigation generally precedes the filing of an accusation. Frequently, investigators will seek to interview the licensee and have documentation produced. This is a critical portion of the disciplinary process which, if handled correctly and circumstances warranting, may not proceed further if adequate information is provided.
The administrative hearing process is a procedure before an Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearings. There is no right to a jury trial. The evidentiary rules are similar to those utilized in civil litigation, but there are significant exceptions. Further, the right to discovery (i.e., the right to obtain documents, answers under oath and depositions) is much more limited than in a civil proceeding.
At the hearing, the agency/department bears the initial burden of proof in the presentation of evidence. The licensee then proceeds with his or her case which, under appropriate circumstances, should include mitigation evidence. After hearing evidence and argument, the Administrative Law Judge issues a proposed decision. That decision may or may not be adopted by the board or department. Generally, the board/department is given wide, but not unlimited, discretion with respect to important issues including penalty. It is very important that evidence received on behalf of the licensee at the hearing is as detailed as possible so as to afford the licensee a greater chance of avoiding discipline or receiving a lesser discipline in the event that the board/department decides to impose a harsh discipline upon the licensee and/or makes findings that are not supported by the evidence. If this occurs, and timely measures are taken, the record may be reviewed by a court to determine whether the findings of the board/department should be upheld.
In the administrative process, opportunities to resolve the matter arise, in many instances, to provide alternatives to going through the hearing process. Any such agreed-upon compromise must be approved by the board/department. It is important that the licensee has properly developed his or her case so as to provide incentives for the board/department to consider a resolution short of hearing.
Michael Goch has settled many licensing proceedings as well as tried proceedings through completion and has successfully represented licensees in pre- and post-hearing proceedings, including the appellate process.
Some licensees may become a defendant in lawsuits brought on behalf of insurance companies, may become a target of a criminal investigation, may be sued for alleged unethical or illegal practices, or may become subject to denial of important governmental benefits such as utilization of MediCal/MediCare provider numbers.
Michael Goch has represented many licensees with respect to such matters. Although the Law Offices of Michael Goch, A Professional Corporation, does not undertake primary criminal defense representation of licensees, Michael Goch has served as a consultant for criminal defense counsel in matters regarding licensees and has worked closely with criminal defense counsel on matters where there is involvement in a simultaneous administrative and/or civil proceeding as well as a pending criminal investigation or proceeding.