This information guide is meant to help you understand the process after a hearing and Final Order. If you received a Final Order but didn’t attend a hearing, either because you missed it or because you received a default Final Order for not having filed a required document, see the Guide to filing a “Request for a New Hearing”.
Also, this guide does not cover every detail or requirement, and it does not give legal advice. You are ultimately responsible for knowing and following all OAH Rules that apply to your case and for making decisions about your case. If you have questions, contact the OAH Resource Center by phone at (202) 442-9094 (press ‘4’ from the main menu) or by email at [email protected].
How do I make a request to change a Final Order?
You can make your request by completing and filing the Request to Change a Final Order form. You also need to send a copy of the form to the other party and complete the "Certificate of Service" page, letting OAH know when and how you sent a copy to the other party.
Is there a deadline to file a request to change a Final Order?
Yes. There are two deadlines to know about:
- Filing within 10 days
- Filing after 10 days, but within 120 days
Both deadlines start from the date OAH served (i.e., mailed and/or emailed) the Final Order. You can find this date on the “Certificate of Service” at the end of the order.
If you received the Final Order only by regular mail, you get an extra five days, meaning you can file within 15 days, or after 15 days but within 125 days.
Also, the deadlines are measured in calendar days, meaning weekends and holidays are included.
If I have 120 days, why does it matter if I file within the first 10 days?
There are two benefits to filing your request within 10 days:
- You preserve the full period to eventually file an appeal to a higher court, if needed.
All OAH Final Orders can be appealed to a higher court, but there is a strict deadline from the date of the Final Order to do so. But if you first want the OAH judge to reconsider the Final Order (and you file your appeal to OAH within 10 days), the time to appeal to a higher court does not start to run until after the judge either denies your request or issues a new Final Order that you want to appeal.
- The judge can change the Final Order for more reasons.
A judge can change the Final Order or schedule a new hearing for any reason “where substantial justice requires.” This means there must be something of substance to justify a change. In other words, the judge will not change an order because of minor errors or omissions that have no effect on the outcome or because you are generally unhappy with the result. However, the judge has broad discretion to consider many different reasons.
If you miss the 10-day deadline, you still have 120 days to ask the judge to change the Final Order. But you lose those two benefits:
- The deadline to appeal to a higher court continues to run from the date of the Final Order. So, you may lose your right to appeal to a higher court while going through the process of requesting a change to the Final Order.
- The judge is strictly limited in the reasons for changing the final order.
What reasons can justify a change to the Final Order?
If you file your request within 10 days, the judge is not limited to specific reasons. But common reasons for changing a Final Order after reconsideration include:
- An error of law in the Final Order
- Findings of fact in the Final Order that are not supported by the evidence
- The discovery of new evidence that previously was not reasonably available
But if you file your request after 10 days, the judge is limited to one or more of the following reasons:
- Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect
- Newly discovered evidence that by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to meet the 10-day deadline
- Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party
- The final order is void
- A prior judgment on which the Final Order is based is no longer in effect, or it is not legally fair that the prior judgment continue to have effect
Also, if the opposing party is a D.C. agency, the agency can ask that a Final Order issued in its favor be set aside, if there is a good reason.
What do I need to include in my request?
You should clearly list each reason why you think the judge should change the Final Order, and you should give a short and plain statement explaining each reason.
Can the other party respond to my request?
Yes. The other party normally isn’t required to respond, unless the judge orders a response. But before a judge can grant a request, the judge must give the other party an opportunity to respond.
What can a judge do after receiving a request?
The judge can simply deny the request, if there is no valid reason to change a Final Order. But if the judge grants a request, the judge may:
- Order further submissions from the parties
- Schedule a hearing
- Issue a new Final Order that may or may not change the result of the case
Remember, if you file your request within 10 days of the Final Order, you will still have the full 30 days to appeal to a higher court if the judge either denies your request or ultimately issues another Final Order in the other party’s favor. But if you miss the 10-day deadline, and the 30-day deadline to appeal has already passed when the judge denies your request or issues another Final Order, you then have no other right to an appeal.
Can I request a change to the Final Order and appeal to a higher court at the same time?
No. You cannot do both at the same time. If you appeal the Final Order to a higher court, then OAH no longer has authority over the case.
Do I have to obey the Final Order if I request a change or file an appeal?
Yes. A Final Order takes effect when it is issued, and filing an appeal does not automatically postpone or otherwise affect the requirement to do what the Final Order says you must do.
However, you can request that the OAH judge “stay” (or delay) the effective date of the Final Order. If the judge grants a stay, you do not need to do what the Final Order says until after the appeal is over, and only if the Final Order is upheld on appeal. You may use the Request for a Stay form, available on the OAH website, for this purpose. The judge must issue an order in writing to grant the request.
OAH Rule Pointers
NOTE: It is your responsibility to know and follow all OAH Rules that apply to your case. Failure to follow the rules could result in the rejection of your request. You can find the OAH Rules on the Rules & Laws page.
Other Rules may apply, but important rules to know include:
Rule 2828 - This rule covers all the requirements for a requesting a change to a Final Order, including deadlines and reasons why a judge may change a Final Order.
Rule 2813 - This rule generally covers “motions” procedure. A motion is a request for the judge to do something in a case, such as change a Final Order. Rule 2828 covers motions to change a Final Order specifically, but this rule has additional requirements that apply to all types of motions.
Rule 2809 - This rule covers filing requirements, including information about when a paper is considered filed.
Rule 2811 - This rule covers “service” requirements. Every request you file with OAH must be served (or sent) to the other party in the case. This rule explains when and how you must do so.
Rule 2812 - This rule explains how to calculate deadlines. For example, the rule explains that if the last day of a deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline is extended to the end of the next day on which OAH is open.
Rule 2830 - This rule covers appeals and explains stay requests, including factors a judge may consider when deciding whether to grant a stay.
If you still have questions, contact the OAH Resource Center by phone at (202) 442-9094 (press ‘4’ from the main menu) or by email at [email protected].