Opinion:Bd. of County Commissioners v. State ex. Rel. Office of Juvenile Affairs,  2021 OK CIV APP 40
Subject matter:Government; Administrative Law
Date Decided:Decided: 9/3/2021; Mandate Issued: 10/21/2021
Trial Court:District Court of Texas County; Judge Reddick
Route to this Court:Appeal of trial court’s grant of a motion to dismiss filed by the Office of Juvenile Affairs
Facts:Texas County operated a six-bed juvenile detention facility pursuant to a contract with the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs. In an open meeting, OJA voted to amend its state-wide plan for detention services and, as a result, did not exercise its option to renew the contract with Texas County. The Board brough suit alleging, in part, that it was seeking review of an alleged final agency order by the OJA, pursuant to 75 O.S. § 318. The OJA filed a Motion to Dismiss, claiming that 75 O.S. § 318 (part of the Administrative Procedures Act) does not apply because this is not a review of a “final agency order in an individual proceeding” and that the trial court had no jurisdiction to proceed with the lawsuit. Further, OJA argues that the Board was merely challenging a fiscal decision by OJA to cut its budget across the state and whether OJA had the statutory authority to do so. Therefore, venue was appropriate in Oklahoma County under the general venue statute, 12 O.S. § 133, that governs actions against state officials. The trial court initially denied OJA’s Motion to Dismiss, then later allowed OJA to renew the Motion at a hearing on the Board’s Motion to Stay and claim for a Temporary Injunction. Eventually, the trial court granted the Motion to Dismiss and the Board appeals. 
Standard of Review:De novo review of an issue of statutory interpretation. Also, orders granting motions to dismiss are reviewed de novo. The Board also claims its due process rights were violated when the trial court allowed OJA to present a witness during a hearing on the Board’s Motion to Stay and claim for a Temporary Injunction and also by entertaining OJA’s renewed Motion to Dismiss made at that hearing, actions which are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. 
Analysis:Due process, at a minimum, requires notice and an opportunity to be heard. Due process does not mandate any particular form of procedure. A determination of whether or not due process rights are violated is done on a case-by-case basis. OJA announced in advance its intent to present a witness regarding jurisdiction at the hearing on the Board’s Motion to Stay. Further, the Board had been given the opportunity to be heard on the Motion to Dismiss at a prior hearing. Therefore, it was not a violation of the Board’s due process rights for the trial court to hear from the witness and to allow OJA to renew its Motion to Dismiss. The issues of jurisdiction and venue are inextricably intertwined with the merits of the Board’s claims. If the OJA took action in an individual proceeding, then the venue would be proper in Texas County. Here, however, the issue is not venue but the jurisdictional basis for the case: whether or not an individual proceeding occurred, thereby triggering the propriety of a judicial review under the APA. An “individual proceeding” means a formal process by an agency to resolve issues of law or fact between parties and which results in the exercise of discretion of a judicial nature. That is not what happened here. This was an operational decisions by the OJA within the scope of its statutory authority. Further, this action by the OJA was not subject to the rule-making requirements of the APA. 
Vote:Prince, J. (author); Goree, P.J., and Mitchell, J. concur. 
Other: No Petition for Cert. The Board also argued that the OJA committed a breach of contract by failing to give the Board thirty days notice that it did not intend to renew the contract and violated the Open Meeting Act. OCOCA ruled that venue for these actions was not proper in Texas County, but rather in Oklahoma County.