Jefferson Exil-Pro Se Petitioner.
Thomas Quinn AAG-Respondents.
ORDER ON MOTION TO TAKE ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE AND 80C APPEAL
Joyce A. Wheeler Justice.
This matter is before the Court on petitioner Jefferson Exil's pro se petition for review of final agency action pursuant to Rule 80C. Exil has also filed a motion to take additional evidence. He argues that the agency incorrectly interpreted its own rules regarding Unemployed Parent ("UP") Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ("TANF") benefits. For the following reasons the motion to take additional evidence is denied and the agency's decision is affirmed.
Petitioner Jefferson Exil applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ("TANF") benefits on behalf of his household on January 17, 2013 and June 28, 2013. (R. at CI.) Both applications were denied by the Department of Health and Human Services ("the Department"), and Exil appealed the denials to a hearing officer at the Department. (R. at HO-1.) The hearing officer concluded that Exil was the primary wage earner in the household, and that he did not meet the eligibility requirements under the Department's rules.
1. Standard of Review
The Court will only review an agency decision "for errors of law, abuse of discretion, or findings of fact not supported by the record." Friends of Lincoln Lakes v. Bd. of Envtl. Prot., 2010 ME 18, ¶ 12, 989 A.2d 1128 (quoting Save Our Sebasticook, Inc. v. Bd. of Entvl. Prot., 2007 ME 102, ¶13, 928 A.2d 736). The Court "will not overrule findings of fact supported by substantial evidence, defined as 'such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the resultant conclusion.'" Lewiston Daily Sun v. Unemployment Ins. Comm'n, 1999 ME 90, ¶ 7, 733 A.2d 344 (quoting Crocker v. Me. Employment Sec. Comm'n, 450 A.2d 469, 471 (Me. 1982)). "An agency's interpretation of its own internal rules will be given considerable deference and will not be set aside unless the rule plainly compels a contrary result, or the rule interpretation is contrary to the governing statute." Friends of Boundary Mountains v. Land Use Regulation Comm'n, 2012 ME 53, ¶ 6, 40 A.3d 947.
2. Motion to Take Additional Evidence
Exil claims the Department was biased against him and moves the court to take additional evidence on the issue of bias under Rule 80C(e). Under the Maine Administrative Procedure Act,
The reviewing court may order the taking of additional evidence ... if application is made to the reviewing court for leave to present additional evidence, and it is shown that the additional evidence is material to the issues presented in the review, and could not have been presented or was erroneously disallowed in proceedings before the agency. After taking the additional evidence, the agency may modify its findings and decisions, and shall file with the court, to become part of the record for review, the additional evidence and any new findings or decision.
5 M.R.S. § 11006(2013).
After reviewing Exil's detailed statement of evidence of additional evidence, the Court concludes that Exil's allegations of bias are without merit. Exil repeatedly contends that certain evidence "goes directly to show Respondents' bias and knowledge that Jefferson Exil was actively seeking employment as required under TANF rules." (Pet.'s Detailed Statement of Evidence.) Because it is irrelevant whether Exil was looking for work, there is no need to take additional evidence on the issue. To the extent Exil claims the agency is biased against him generally, the Court finds these allegations are unsupported and insufficient to require the taking of additional evidence. See ...