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Stephens v. Merit Systems Protection Bd.

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

February 19, 1993, Decided



 [*494]  MICHEL, Circuit Judge.

Theodore Stephens (petitioner), an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), appeals from a decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (Board), which dismissed his complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In re Stephens, 52 MSPR 522 (1992). The Board held that it lacked jurisdiction because Stephens failed to show that the program and course of instruction which his agency required him to attend impaired his decisional independence. Id. at 526. [**2]  Because Stephens has not shown as a matter of law on undisputed facts that, the agency constructively removed him by requiring him to attend the program and course, the Board properly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Moreover, because Stephens has not raised any issue that cannot  [*495]  be decided on the documents submitted, the Board was correct in making its determination without a hearing. We affirm.


On July 12, 1991, Stephens, an ALJ for the Department of Health and Human Services (agency) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, filed a complaint with the Board alleging constructive removal by his agency. In his complaint, Stephens alleged that a program and course of instruction that his agency required him to attend infringed on his judicial independence so that the agency action constituted constructive removal.

The course of instruction at issue was designed especially for Stephens by the agency because of deficiencies the agency noticed when investigating him for other reasons. 1 The course was to be held in Falls Church, Virginia, and was part of a program generally described by the Board as follows:

The program included a five-day period of instruction covering such [**3]  subjects as agency policies with regard to prehearing review, prehearing conferences, and the conduct of hearings. One portion of the training would stress such elements as the maintenance of judicial demeanor at all times, and the need, in a decision, to weigh all evidence -- particularly that which is favorable to a claimant when the claim is denied. The curriculum would also include sessions addressing duo process, the role of an ALJ, perceiving stereotypes, gender bias, witness credibility, evidentiary issues, and judicial writing.

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986 F.2d 493 *; 1993 U.S. App. LEXIS 2710 **; 93 Daily Journal DAR 2937


Prior History:  [**1]  Appealed from: Merit Systems Protection Board

Disposition: AFFIRMED.


allegations, decisional, attend, merits, impartial, removal, administrative law judge, agency's action, intertwined

Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Reviewability, Factual Determinations, Environmental Law, Administrative Proceedings & Litigation, Judicial Review, Questions of Law, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Arbitrary & Capricious Standard of Review, Substantial Evidence, Pensions & Benefits Law, Governmental Employees, US Civil Service Retirement System, Agency Adjudication, Presiding Officers, Administrative Law Judges, Governments, Federal Government, Employees & Officials, Formal Adjudicatory Procedure, Impartial Decisionmaker, General Overview, Hearings