Administrative Appeals Judge at the Environmental & Land Use Hearing Office

State of Washington
Environmental & Land Use Hearing Office

invites applications for the position of:
Administrative Appeals Judge

SALARY: $85,000.00 – $95,000.00 Annually


OPENING DATE: 09/27/19
CLOSING DATE: 10/18/19 11:59 PM

Administrative Appeals Judge

The Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office (ELUHO) is a small agency housing three independent, quasi-judicial boards that hear appeals of environmental and land use decisions made by various state and local agencies.  These include the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB), the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB), and the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB).  The Administrative Appeals Judge (AAJ) works with the PCHB and SHB.

(1) The PCHB reviews permitting and enforcement decisions of the Department of Ecology (except shorelines) including water quality, water rights, and other regulatory actions.  The Board also reviews order issued by local air pollution control authorities.  Additionally, the PCHB reviews decisions of the Department of Natural Resources under the Forest Practices Act and decisions of the Department of Fish and Wildlife on hydraulic projects.

(2) The SHB reviews permitting and enforcement decisions of local governments and the Department of Ecology under the Shoreline Management Act.

The PCHB is comprised of Members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate for staggered six year terms.  The PCHB Members also sit on the SHB, where they are joined by other part-time members designated by DNR and the city and county associations.

The PCHB/SHB employ two full-time AAJs.  Four administrative support staff work with the Boards under the ELUHO umbrella.

The PCHB and SHB appeal processes provide citizens with an accessible, administrative level of review of agency environmental and land use-related decisions.  The Boards issue decisions setting forth legal analysis of claims, and if a case goes to hearing, findings of fact and conclusions of law that inform all parties of the reasons for the Board’s decision.  The AAJs work as a team with PCHB and SHB members and other support staff to support and carry out the agency mission, vision, values, and goals.  To do this, they provide high quality and timely administrative hearings and written decisions consistent with RCW Chapter 34.05 (the Administrative Procedures Act) and other applicable laws, and provide courteous and fair treatment to all concerned.

The AAJ position is a staff position reporting to the ELUHO Director and the PCHB Chair, who will establish workload assignments and priorities.  The AAJ is assigned cases pending before the PCHB and SHB.  The AAJ will serve as presiding officer over their assigned cases and is responsible for managing the case, presiding over oral arguments and hearings, and preparing the final written decision(s) for the Board.  The PCHB Chair assigns the role of presiding officer in all new appeals among the three full-time PCHB Members and the AAJs.

Whenever an AAJ is assigned the role of presiding officer, their duties will involve the overall management of the appeal, from filing to disposition, including:

  • Conducting and directing the course of proceedings, including pre-hearing conferences, settlement conferences and motion practice;
  • Presiding at oral argument and open-record hearings, including ruling on evidentiary and procedural matters, and making a clear and complete hearing record;
  • Facilitating Board deliberations, assisting Members to achieve consensus by identifying areas of agreement and narrowing points of disagreement;
  • Researching, writing, signing and overseeing the issuance of the final decision in accordance with the majority decision of the Board; and
  • Assisting Board Members in drafting concurring and dissenting opinions, as needed.

The AAJ is also expected to:

  • Travel statewide as required in order to conduct hearings near the location where the appeal arises;
  • Serve as mediator in certain appeals, as assigned by the Mediation Coordinator;
  • Rule on non-dispositive pre-hearing motions, including resolving discovery disputes and issuing subpoenas; and
  • Provide procedural assistance to pro se parties while avoiding improper ex parte contact.

Additionally, the Director and Chair may assign the AAJ other duties relating to administrative or legislative matters in support of the agency, including rulemaking, ethics consultation and research on specified topics.

Required Qualifications:

  • Admitted to the practice of law in Washington, and a member in good standing with the state bar association;
  • Knowledge of environmental law, as demonstrated by three to five years of practice in one or more areas of environmental law.

Desirable Qualifications:

  • A demonstrated knowledge of administrative law and procedures;
  • Experience as an adjudicator, hearings examiner or presiding officer; and
  • Experience as a mediator, or a willingness to complete a course of training in mediation skills.

The successful candidate will:

Communicate effectively in writing, presenting issues, facts, analysis, legal conclusions, and directions in a clear, efficient, and technically sound manner.

Objectively lead and manage interactions among diverse and competing viewpoints, discerning issues and priorities, and resulting in consensus decisions wherever possible.

Demonstrate a familiarity with legal issues relating to the jurisdiction of the Boards, knowledge of administrative law and procedure, court rules, rules of evidence, and legal research tools such as Westlaw.

Maintain appropriate judicial decorum and judicial demeanor throughout all appeal-related proceedings.

Manage competing priorities and achieve consistently high quality results in a timely manner with little need for oversight.
Conduct fair, impartial, and efficient hearings, providing necessary explanations of the proceedings, making rulings on the relevancy of testimony and the admissibility of evidence as it is offered, and dealing with difficult people who are upset or having difficulty understanding the proceeding.
Express ideas and information effectively, using language that is appropriate to both the complexity of the topic and the knowledge and understanding of the audience.
Identify issues in a case, including areas in need of further analysis and investigation.
Effectively research and analyze legal issues and apply legal principles and precedents, with a commitment to reaching an unbiased and legally correct decision.
Thoroughly review case files and legal reference materials in preparation for hearings and Board discussions, and prepare bench memoranda as needed.
Competently use technologies that are necessary to conducting EHO business, including word processing and electronic communication software, teleconferencing technology, and specialized legal software such as Westlaw.
Assist other AAJs and Board Members with workload when necessary, being available to substitute for other presiding officers as needed.


This position offers flexible work hours and training as needed.  Washington State has a generous benefit package available to employees, including health, dental, life, and long-term disability insurance, retirement plans, and an optional deferred compensation program.  Additional benefits include paid holidays, vacation, sick, military, and civil leave; dependent care assistance program; employee advisory service; educational benefits program; and Commute Trip Reduction Incentives.


Qualified and interested applicants should submit:

  1. Letter of interest;
  2. Current resume outlining educational background, names of employers, dates of employment, scope of experiences and responsibilities in past and present positions;
  3. Three employment references with current telephone numbers; and
  4. Two writing samples.

This recruitment will close on October 18, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.  To ensure consideration, please submit your application packet by the deadline using any of the following:

By Mail to:                                                                  In Person to:
Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office                 Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office
Attention:  AAJ Position                                               1111 Israel Rd SW, Ste. 301
PO Box 40903                                                              Tumwater, WA  98501
Olympia, WA 98504-0903

By Facsimile to:                                                           By Electronic Mail to:
(360) 586-2253                                                   
Subject: AAJ Position Application

The Environmental Hearings Office is an equal opportunity employer.  Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, persons over 40 years of age, and disabled and military veterans are encouraged to apply.  For reasonable accommodations, please contact Nancy Coverdell (360) 664-9171.

Heather LigtenbergAdministrative Appeals Judge at the Environmental & Land Use Hearing Office