ALJ Bias as a Basis for Appeal to Federal Court

The following is a survey of recent cases from the Eastern District of Tennessee concerning the issue of ALJ bias:

Miller v. Astrue, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 183011 (E.D.Tenn. Dec. 5, 2012): “I conclude the ALJ weighed the evidence and formulated the RFC assessment he deemed appropriate based on the evidence he found credible in the record. He properly developed the record and did not demonstrate judicial bias that violated Plaintiff’s right to due process.”

Bohannon v. Astrue, 2013 U.S.Dist. Lexis 16440 (E.D.Tenn. Feb. 17, 2013): “Although the ALJ’s behavior is troubling, it did not rise to the level of disqualifying bias.”  “The Court does note, however, the ALJ’s comments cause the Court concern.”

Blackburn v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 2012 U.S.Dist. Lexis 183493 (E.D.Tenn. Nov. 14, 2012 ): “although the ALJ at times did use inappropriately salty and unprofessional language during the hearing” the decision was upheld:  “I find the ALJ’s statements during the hearing, while needless and uncouth at times, do not create or reflect error in his decision. . . .”

Hunley v. Astrue, 2011 U.S. Dist. Lexis 90804 (E.D.Tenn. Aug. 15, 2011):  Request for remand with a different ALJ rejected (though remand was granted).

Courtney v. Astrue, 2011 U.S.Dist. Lexis 89364 (E.D.Tenn. Aug. 10, 2011):  “plaintiff failed to demonstrate bias in any  way other than speculation, and therefore rejects the bald assertion that the ALJ showed bias in this case.”

Amsbury v. Astrue, 2011 U.S.Dist. Lexis 23203 (E.D.Tenn. Mar. 8, 2011): “The administrative process of adjudicating Social Security claims by an ALJ includes steps besides the hearing itself. He would certainly have been within his rights prior to and during the hearing to develop perceptions based upon the review of the record and the testimony presented. This may be a form of bias, but not improper bias. Nothing he said at the hearing calls into question his fair-mindedness or his dedication to the process. Finally, the Court has seen much clearer examples in other Social Security cases of rudeness and incivility on the part of other ALJ’s, but those, in and of themselves, were never a basis for a remanding of the case.”

Dykes v. Astrue, 2011 U.S.Dist. Lexis 236 (E.D.Tenn. Jan. 3, 2011): Claim of bias rejected.

Stonecypher v. Astrue, 2010 U.S.Dist. Lexis 72349 (E.D.Tenn. July 19, 2010):  Case remanded, but request for different ALJ rejected.

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Disability Lawyer in Tennessee and Georgia.

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