The New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, or OATH, is the government agency that is responsible for conducting hearings for other government entities, such as commissions, agencies, or boards, which are under the jurisdiction of the city of New York.
The purpose of OATH is to be a decision-making body independent of other government agencies. Internal regulation and internally-conducted hearings can result in decreased credibility on judgements and rulings, due to a perceived bias that may or may not exist. As an independent body, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings helps ensure that decisions are made by an agency that is impartial and fair.
OATH also oversees the Administrative Judicial Training Institute, an entity whose purpose is to provide education and training for New York City administrative law tribunals and judges. It updates judges on the latest reforms in the field of administrative justice. It is also helps train judges in the areas of courtroom skills, and courtroom applications of technology.
There are four tribunals for which OATH is responsible. These tribunals are:
- OATH Tribunal. The OATH Tribunal is responsible for hearing disciplinary cases against civil servants, from various New York City agencies, such as the NYPD. The OATH Tribunal was the very first municipal tribunal that was a central tribunal independent from the agencies that issued the tickets related to the hearing, or referred cases to it. The OATH Tribunal holds almost half a million hearings every year, on a variety of issues.
- Environmental Control Board. The OATH Environmental Control Board is the agency in charge of conducting hearings on tickets that are for violation of city laws and statutes that are aimed at protecting the environment, as well as the health and safety of the public. It is independent of any ticket-issuing agency, and is an impartial decision-making body. There are thirteen different government entities that issue tickets that are filed with the Environmental Control Board. The Environmental Control Board or its judges do not have the power to increase, decrease, or waive fines, as all fines are determined by law.
- Health Tribunal. The OATH Health Tribunal is the decision-making body in charge of cases which involve health code violations that have taken place within New York City. It hears cases on NOVs, or Notices of Violation, which have been issued by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or DOHMH. The Health Tribunal is not responsible for performing health inspections, and it is does not issue notices of violation. It is an independent body, not under the DOHMH.
- Taxi and Limousine Tribunal. When the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), the Port Authority of New York, or the Port Authority of New Jersey issues a ticket, the Taxi and Limousine Tribunal is the agency tasked with holding a hearing. Despite the similar name, the Taxi & Limousine Tribunal is not a department, nor under the jurisdiction, of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. As such, judges who rule on tribunal hearings and cases are not under the TLC, who can pass impartial judgement.