Decisions Relied Upon as Precedent

What is a Precedent? 

"Precedent" is a group of decisions which include significant legal or policy determinations, and are designed to guide an Administrative Law Judge in deciding cases involving the Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division. The authority to establish precedent for administrative matters, by identifying cases and certifying them, was established fairly recently although precedent is used routinely by judges in other civil cases and in criminal cases.

The Department first adopted a number of decisions as precedent in May of 1999. Precedent is important to parties in a legal case involving the Department, because the precedent establishes what the Department has done in the past, and why. The procedures that apply to an administrative case are in the Administrative Procedures Act and are more fully described by the Office of Administrative Hearings, which assigns judges to make the decisions in the cases. 

Office of Administrative Hearing - This link will provide you with general information on the procedure, including information designed to assist the person representing themselves.  

In what type of cases does the Department’s precedent apply?

The precedent applies to cases involving the Department of Social Services, an operator or applicant for a care facility, or an individual who resides in, works in, or is present in a care facility. Each of the decisions, which altogether constitute the precedent, are cases involving a care facility regulated by the Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division. If someone is unclear as to whether a particular decision certified as precedent, applies to their case, they should present it to the Administrative Law Judge before or during the administrative hearing. Precedent is binding upon any case filed by the Department, to the extent that a case involves the same facts, legal or policy issues determined in the precedent.    

How is a decision, which is relied upon as precedent, used? 

The Administrative Law Judge is required to apply the principles of the Department’s precedent, to the extent that the facts and issues are the same. The judge’s final decision must be consistent with the precedential decisions. An attorney for the Department may, in an administrative case, bring one or more of the decisions to the Administrative Law Judge’s attention when it appears that the facts and other issues are the same or similar. If you are a respondent in a case involving the Department’s Community Care Licensing Division, and you believe that one or more of the decisions which the department identified as precedent is binding in your case, you should inform the Department and Administrative Law Judge at the time of the hearing or before the hearing.  

Is there a summary of the Department’s precedent available to me?

Yes. The Department publishes an index which contains a summary of each of the cases which have been designated at precedent. The case number consists of the year the case was designated as precedent, followed by "CDSS" to indicate the California Department of Social Services, followed by a chronological number. You should use the name of the case along with the decision number, when you request a copy of a particular decision. 

How can I obtain a copy of Department precedent?

Decisions designated as precedent, as well as the index, are available on the Department’s Community Care Licensing Division web site. Copies of these decisions may also be requested by contacting the Department’s Public Affairs Office at Department of Social Services, Public Affairs, MS 17-09, 744 P Street, Sacramento, CA. 95814. A charge of 10 cents per page will be assessed if your request exceeds 100 pages.
Index of Decisions Designated as Precedent