Step 6 ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING
If no settlement is reached, an administrative hearing is ordered — handled much like a civil or criminal hearing, although
somewhat less formal.
Most states hire an attorney to serve as an administrative-law judge (ALJ), who sits like a civil or criminal judge, hearing
testimony from witnesses, admitting evidence, allowing for rebuttals and asking questions of both the prosecution and defense.
In some states, hearings take place before the entire state board; in others, an adjudicating body is named.
Because the state board represents the public, administrative hearings are open to the public.
Step 7 JUDGE'S RECOMMENDATION
After the hearing, the ALJ writes a formal recommendation to the board and may request punishment through a fine, temporary
license suspension, an order that the licensee complete some continuing-education courses or, in some states, even revocation
of a license. On the other hand, the ALJ could recommend that the licensee be exonerated if the state failed to meet its burden
of proof during the hearing.
Step 8 FINAL ORDER
At its regular meeting — open to the public in some states, but not in all — the state board decides whether to accept the
ALJ's recommendation. Most boards customarily do, although sometimes with a modification. That acceptance serves as an administrative
conviction of the licensee, and is followed by a final order that becomes public record.
Step 9 RIGHT TO APPEAL
Veterinarians may appeal an administrative conviction to a circuit court, which decides whether evidence supports the conviction
and whether the licensee received due process. The circuit court can affirm the conviction or remand it back to the state
board to be retried. The licensee also has the right to appeal a circuit court's decision to an appellate court and even to
the state's supreme court.