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How to Handle Administrative Hearings Before the Ohio Department of Commerce

Published: Jan 16, 2018 by John Izzo

The Ohio Department of Commerce is made up of several divisions, including the Division of Financial Institutions, the Division of Liquor Control, the Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing, the Division of Securities, and the Division of State Fire Marshal. These five divisions regulate a number of professional license holders, including but not limited to: pawnbrokers, loan officers, mortgage brokers, real estate brokers, real estate agents, appraisers, securities dealers, hotels and motels. The Department has an active regulatory presence, and frequently conducts administrative hearings on disciplinary matters.

If you receive a Notice of Opportunity for Hearing form any of the Divisions, do not forget to request your hearing. If you fail to do so, the Division in question may proceed against you without hearing your side of the story.

The Department of Commerce prefers that all hearings be set within 45 days of the request for a hearing. The matter is then assigned to a hearing examiner. The hearing examiner may set a preliminary conference if he or she chooses, or upon request of the Respondent. This may be done to simplify or clarify the issues to be addressed at the hearing, to obtain stipulations and admissions, set deadlines for witness exchange and exhibit lists, and address other matters intended to expedite the proceeding.

All witnesses at the hearing must testify under oath or affirmation. The Respondent may appear in person, through their attorney, or may present their position, arguments, or contentions in writing. Generally, the hearing examiner will prepare a Report and Recommendation to the Division head. This normally includes findings of fact and conclusions of law. In regards to the Division of Real Estate, the hearing examiner does not provide a recommendation. The Report and Recommendation should be issued within thirty days of the closing date of the hearing.

The Respondent may object to the Report and Recommendation within ten days of its receipt. The Department allows an Assistant Attorney General to file a response. A decision is not final until the Division head has accepted, rejected, or modified the hearing examiner’s report and recommendation.

If you have any questions or concerns about hearings before the Ohio Department of Commerce, or any other agency, you should talk with an attorney at Graff & McGovern. John Izzo, a former hearing examiner for the Ohio Department of Commerce, can be reached at or 614-228-5800, extension 5.