Quasi Judicial


This information is not legal advice. Anyone seeking legal advice on any topics addressed below should consult their legal counsel.

Certain Town Board decisions are legally characterized as "quasi-judicial". State law requires special procedures for quasi-judicial matters to protect the rights of all involved. 



Town Board Quasi-Judicial

When the Town Board makes decisions regarding "quasi-judicial" matters, it does so by acting like a judge in a court of law. During a quasi-judicial hearing, the Board applies established standards to facts presented at a public hearing in order to reach a decision. Quasi-judicial decisions generally concern the rights of a specific person/persons and are not applicable townwide. Common examples of quasi-judicial decisions that the Town Board makes include land-use decisions and liquor license decisions. 

Special Rules for Quasi-Judicial Decisions

When the Town Board is making quasi-judicial decisions, the right to due process generally requires that it follow specific rules, including:

Providing advance notice and a reasonable opportunity for interested parties to present evidence and arguments at a public hearing; Making a record of the proceeding that includes all of the information the Board considers when making its decision (Town staff collects all letters, emails, and documents submitted before the hearing and includes them in the record of the hearing for the Board to consider in making its decision). Avoiding ex parte contacts and only receiving information presented at the public hearing and through the record compiled by Town staff.

  • Ex parte contacts are communications between a Town Board member and an interested party or member of the public outside of the public hearing where a quasi-judicial matter will be decided. 
  • Ex parte contacts can deny due process and be unfair to supporters or opponents of a quasi-judicial matter since the information communicated is not part of the record and one side is not present to hear, consider, and/or rebut statements being made to a Town Board member. 
  • Courts generally regard ex parte contacts with suspicion, and such contacts may provide the legal basis for overturning a decision of the Town Board.
  • The prohibition on ex parte communications promotes transparent and impartial decisions by ensuring the disclosure of all evidence and arguments presented to the Board for its deliberation and decision.
  • The prohibition also gives everyone involved in a quasi-judicial proceeding a fair chance to respond to all information that may impact the Town Board's decision.
How Do I Participate in a Quasi-Judicial Decision?

While ex parte communications are prohibited, interested parties and members of the public are encouraged to engage in the process and provide public comment to the Town Board by speaking at the public hearing or providing information in advance to be included in the materials that staff prepares for the Board as part of the public hearing record.


If you wish to provide information prior to the Town Board's public hearing, please contact the Town Clerk's Office for further details.