C.A. 3rd;
C079354

The Third Appellate District affirmed a judgment. In the published portion of its opinion, the court held that a plaintiff’s election to be represented at an administrative hearing by a non-attorney did not render the administrative decision void.

The Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair, issued citations to Davis Test Only Smog Testing, doing business as Citrus Heights Star Smog, and its technician, Marc Madison, after Madison passed an unpassable vehicle brought to him for a smog inspection. Star Smog and Madison appealed the citations, and the case was heard by an administrative law judge. At the hearing, Star Smog, a corporation, was represented by Daniel McGarry, its former secretary/treasurer, not an attorney. Madison personally appeared. The administrative law judge upheld the citations, and the Bureau adopted that decision. Star Smog and Madison filed a petition for writ of administrative mandamus challenging the administrative ruling. The trial court denied the petition.

Star Smog and Madison appealed, arguing that the administrative decision was void because Star Smog and Madison were represented by a non-attorney.

The court of appeal affirmed, holding that Star Smog’s decision to send its former secretary/treasurer to represent it in the administrative hearing did not render the decision void. Star Smog elected to have McGarry provide its representation and that decision did not violate Star Smog’s statutory or constitutional rights. The perverseness of Star Smog’s contention on appeal was obvious: Star Smog was alleging that it violated its own procedural due process rights and was now asking the court to void the administrative decision because of Star Smog’s own choice. Having notice of the administrative hearing, Star Smog elected to send McGarry rather than hiring an attorney who could attend. That did not provide grounds for reversal. The contention was similarly without merit as to Madison because he attended the hearing and represented himself.