FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, has used the latest chapter in an Amateur Radio enforcement proceeding to reiterate his call that the Commission abolish its Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) system. The long-standing case involves efforts by William F. Crowell, W6WBJ, (ex-N6AYJ), of Diamond Spring, California, to renew his license. Late last week, the FCC denied reconsideration of Crowell’s petition to have the Commission assign a new ALJ to his case, arguing that the current ALJ, Richard L. Sippel, is biased against him. Attaching his own comments to a Memorandum and Opinion Order (MO&O), released on April 26, O’Rielly said he approved the Commission’s opinion that Crowell’s appeal was justifiably denied, but he expressed concern that the ALJ “took unnecessary actions” in Crowell’s case, and in another unrelated proceeding.
“On a larger scale, complaints about the ALJ process are not isolated incidents, but paint a picture of questionable decisions coupled with an elevated level of inefficiency,” O’Rielly said. “It seems to me that, too often, the Commission has had to reverse the decisions of the ALJ or address one ALJ decision or another. This reality only reaffirms my call to consider eliminating the ALJ process altogether.”