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Suit challenges legal process of Arizona administrative hearings

The case of Mr. B

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

A Washington, D.C. organization is challenging the ability of the heads of state agencies in Arizona to discard the conclusions of independent hearing officers.

The new lawsuit filed Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court contends that a caregiver at a group home was denied his rights when Greg McKay, director of the Department of Child Safety, concluded he was guilty of child abuse. Attorney Adi Dynar of the New Civil Liberties Alliance said McKay’s findings could result in the man identified only as Philip B. having his name being entered into the Arizona Central Registry as a child abuser for the next 25 years.

Dynar said McKay’s conclusions are directly contradicted by the findings of the administrative law judge who heard the evidence and exonerated Mr. B.

But the larger legal issue, said Dynar, is the fact that Arizona law actually allows McKay to substitute his own judgment − and even his own version of the facts − from those of the independent hearing officer who was actually the one to conduct the hearing and listen to the witnesses. He wants a trial judge to find that statute unconstitutional.

The outcome of the case has implications beyond DCS.

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