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Administrative Law Judge

Job #: 50051 Exp.: 4+ Years Salary: $36 Hourly
Department Overview: The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s (DNRC) mission is to help ensure Montana’s land and water resources provide benefits for present and future generations. The Department consists of the Director’s Office; the Conservation and Resource Development, Forestry, Trust Lands Management, and Water Resources Divisions; the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission; the Board of Oil and Gas; and an extensive network of 35 field offices. The Director’s Office carries out the department’s mission and statutory responsibilities by administering, managing, planning, and evaluating agency functions in the areas of fiscal operations, human resources, information technology and public information, under the guidance of the director. The Director’s Office includes the director’s staff, Financial Services, Public Information, Legal Unit, Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), Human Resources Office and Office of Information Technology (OIT).

Job Overview: The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is responsible for conducting fair and impartial hearings in accordance with applicable laws, rules, and procedures. The ALJ must decide or recommend decisions on appeals from departmental actions, and prepare written documents explaining the basis for such decisions or recommendations. The ALJ is responsible for case management prior to the hearing, including insuring compliance with applicable statutory deadlines and for working with other OAH personnel to ensure that cases are managed and hearings are conducted with as much uniformity and consistency as possible.

The ALJ must be knowledgeable regarding the Montana Water Use Act, the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, the rules of procedure for administrative hearings, the water resources field, water law, and irrigation practices. They must be able to analyze and appraise facts, evidence, legal documents and records; maintain judicial impartiality; make credibility determinations; apply legal and administrative precedent and principles; work effectively with other employees, witnesses and litigants; ensure orderly and expeditious proceedings; and work without immediate supervision.

Must be thoroughly proficient in the skills necessary to write clear, well-reasoned decisions and recommendations, conduct legal research, use PCs for word processing, and read maps, plans and technical data and reports.

Essential Functions (Major Duties or Responsibilities):
  • Manage and preside over contested cases and conduct hearings, and issue decisions that are subject to judicial review that determine the legal rights, duties and privileges of parties regarding water right permit and change applications, cabin site leases, and other matters assigned.
  • Issue subpoenas and take judicial notice of state and federal laws, regulations, and facts.
  • Act as final decision-maker for contested cases that have exceptions filed to the proposal for decision, for revocation or modification of a permit or authorization.
  • Create and maintain the official record of proceedings in an organized and consistent manner, until the issuance of the final order, according to Montana Rules & Evidence.
  • Makes rulings on evidentiary issues including the admission into the record of evidence and exhibits.
  • Certify cases involving issues on the adjudication of water rights to District Courts or the Water Court.
  • Research and analyze laws, regulations, policies, and precedent to prepare for hearings and to reach legally appropriate conclusions.
  • If requested, review and comment on drafts of written decisions by other Hearings Officers and ALJ’s.
  • Issues written opinions and decisions that are subject to judicial review.
  • Monitors and direct the activities and conduct of involved parties for trials and hearings consistent with due process standard, legal procedures and orderly hearings. Ensure that the parties’ due process rights are respected.
  • Write a summary of findings detailing the issue for each contested case hearing to be added to the department’s contested case index.
  • Maintain case dockets identifying orders issued, filings received and conferences and hearings held for each case.
  • Confer with individuals or organizations involved in cases to obtain facts and information.
  • This includes directing the submission of information and attendance of witnesses and the parties participation in the hearing.
  • Must have institutional or other specialized skills, the incumbent may be requested to assist the Department in additional legal matters including complex multi-stakeholder conflict resolution.

Other Duties as Assigned:
Perform legal work requiring the practice of law and legal licensure.

Application and Selection Process: The DNRC may include the following factors in determining whether an applicant meets the qualifications of a position vacancy by: State of MT application form, cover letter, current resume, educational requirements, structured interview, a performance test, job-related reference checks, job-related work experience, job-related past and current performance.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) – Employment with the State of Montana may qualify you to receive student loan forgiveness under the PSLF. Look here to learn more and see if you may qualify.

Minimum Qualifications (Education and Experience):

  • Juris doctor degree plus four years of job-related experience in legal writing, conducting legal research, litigation, administrative law, administrative hearings processes and procedures, and adjudication of contested cases.
  • Other combinations of directly related education and experience may be substituted.

Required knowledge, skills, and abilities:
  • The ALJ must have expert knowledge of Montana and Federal laws, including the Montana Water Use Act, the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, and the rules of procedure for administrative hearings. Extensive experience in the water resources field and with water law, and irrigation practices. The ALJ must possess the ability to analyze and appraise fact, evidence, legal documents and records; maintain judicial impartiality; make credibility determination; apply legal and administrative precedents and principles; work effectively with other employees, witnesses and litigants; ensure orderly and expeditious proceedings; and work without immediate supervision.
  • Superior performance can be distinguished through clarity and soundness of written decisions, efficiency in case management, conduct of proceedings, decision-making, and the ability to act independently.
  • Skill in legal research; use of standard office software and equipment in the performance of job duties, reading maps, plans and technical data and reports is also essential.

Special Information: Candidates must be eligible to work in the United States. A valid driver's license is required with less than 12 conviction points in the most recent completed 36 months.

Eligibility to Work: In accordance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, the person selected must produce within three days of hire documents that show authorization to work in the United States. Examples of such documentation include a birth certificate or Social Security card along with a driver’s license or other picture I.D., or a U.S. passport, or a "green card".

Closing Date: 22nd September, 2020

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