Energy Whitepaper - Page 2

BRAD HUGHES , MARK STEMM AND ERIC GALLON

OHIO SUPREME COURT WRAPS UP 2020 BY REPEATEDLY REMINDING STATE AGENCIES TO STAY IN THEIR STATUTORY LANES

BRAD HUGHES , MARK STEMM AND ERIC GALLON

Those challenging the final orders and decisions of Ohio ’ s various state commissions and agencies often find themselves facing a steep uphill climb .

In addition to demonstrating prejudicial error , such challengers face entrenched doctrines of judicial deference to agency decision-making . For example , black-letter law regarding appeals from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ( PUCO ) provides that the party challenging an order of the PUCO has a “ heavy burden ” because “ the supreme court has consistently deferred to the Commission ’ s judgment in matters that require it to apply its special expertise and discretion to make factual determinations , and defers to the Commission ’ s expertise in deciding the most effective means of implementing the legislature ’ s intent .” 78 Ohio

Jurisprudence 3d , Public Utilities § 70 ( West 2020 ).
A quartet of decisions issued by the Ohio Supreme Court in the waning months of 2020 , however , provides a stark reminder to the bench and bar that there are indeed meaningful limits on the jurisdiction and powers of the PUCO and other state agencies . These limits are imposed by the statutes enacted by the General Assembly , and the Supreme Court appears intent on reigning in agencies ’ efforts to exercise powers that arguably stray beyond the bounds of the applicable statutory text .
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