Monday, May 03, 2004

Due process means a real "day in court"

The 4th DCA issued a recent opinion that again strengthens the rule that local procedures cannot be used to deprive a person of due process and the protection of interests in a fair hearing that has effective judicial review.

In this case that involved a dismissed firefighter's attempt to get a review, the 4th held that the firefighter could attack the decision in a declaratory action where his request for a grievance (that would result in a reviewable arbitration decision) wasn't acted on by the Union and the City took the position that if he requested a grievance he couldn't demand a hearing before the Civil Service Board. The court's point: you can properly give a person a choice of remedies, but you can't deprive them of the right to a due process-protected procedure by how that choice is implemented.

Applicability to local land use law? How about the fact that most land development regulations today provide for an administrative appeal process for a landowner/developer who is denied a building permit, clearing permit, variance or similar process, but not aggrieved or affected neighbors. If the neighbors can meet the 'special damages' tests, they get to go to circuit court for a remedy because their interests are involved and the local government can't determine their rights by who they do and don't provide standing to enter the administrative review process.

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