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North Dakota administrative law judge retiring

By James MacPherson The Associated Press

BISMARCK — The only person to serve as director of North Dakota’s Office of Administrative Hearings is stepping down.

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Administrative Law Judge Allen Hoberg, 63, is leaving the state post in December to join a private firm in Bismarck that specializes in agriculture law. Gov. Jack Dalrymple has appointed Langdon-native Wade Mann to replace Hoberg, who has held the post for 22 years.

“I’m not really retiring,” Hoberg said Friday. “I have a masters of law in agriculture that I haven’t used a lot.”

The Office of Administrative Hearings began in 1991. The agency is part of the executive branch and provides independent administrative law judges to preside as hearing officers over state and local matters.

Hoberg, a former assistant state’s attorney general, was appointed by then-Gov. George Sinner, a Democrat. Hoberg was reappointed by former Govs. Ed Schafer and John Hoeven, both of whom are Republicans. Each term is six years.

Hoberg said he hasn’t kept count of the cases that he’s heard, but he says it’s in the thousands. He is one of three administrative law judges at the agency.

Hoberg has made recommendations in cases ranging from disputes over school annexations and garbage hauling to claims of defective sunflower seeds sold to farmers. He also has been the hearing officer in numerous cases involving professional licenses, such as those for doctors.

The state Board of Funeral Service in 1996 revoked the license of northwestern North Dakota funeral home director for improper conduct, after Hoberg concluded that the man was unfit for the job. The funeral home director was accused of having sex with a disabled man during a rosary service and while other funeral business was underway.

“It’s good job and a difficult job,” Hoberg said of being an administrative law judge. “There are winners and losers in most of the cases.”

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement that the state is grateful to Hoberg and his “dedicated service.”

“For more than two decades, Allen has done an outstanding job establishing a strong record of service for the agency and serving North Dakota’s citizens and state and local government entities,” Dalrymple said.