Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission

Office of Administrative Law Judges
Washington, DC

The 2015 summer fellowship for this organization has been awarded to Alicia Lee from Howard University School of Law.

This is the 2015 fellowship description for this mentor organization.

The Commission is an independent adjudicative agency charged with resolving disputes arising from the enforcement of safety and health standards in the nation's mines.  The Commission provides administrative trial and appellate review of legal disputes arising under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Amendments of 1977, as amended ("Mine Act").

Under the Mine Act, the U.S. Department of Labor issues regulations covering health and safety in the nation's mines.  Federal mine inspectors employed by the Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) enforce these regulations by issuing citations and orders to mine operators.

Most of the Commission's cases deal with civil penalties assessed by MSHA against mine operators and address whether the alleged safety and health violations occurred as well as the appropriateness of proposed penalties.  Other types of cases include MSHA orders to close a mine, miners' charges of safety related discrmination, miners' request for compensation after the mine is idled by a closure order and review of disputes between MSHA and underground mine operators related to the operators' mine emergency plans.

The Peggy Browning Fellow will support the Commission's adjudication of proceedings under the Mine Act, thereby enhancing compliance with the Act and contributing to the improved health and safety of the nation's miners.  The scope of the Commission's mission was significantly expanded by the passage of the MINER Act in June of 2006 and by other statutory and regulatory changes.  As a result, the number of cases and overall workload has greatly increased.  The Fellow would primarily conduct legal research and write memoranda and draft orders for Administrative Law Judges and support their respective counsels under the supervision of the Chief Judge or his designee.

The Fellow would primarily perform procedural and substantive legal research in support of the Administrative Law Judges in matters arising under the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Mine Act.  Research may also include issues involving legislative history and the Commerce Clause.  The Fellow would be expected to draft a variety of legal documents, including memos, orders, head notes, and decision drafts, as assigned.

It would be the Commission's goal that the student leave the fellowship with a quality work-product and an understanding of how an adjudicative agency operates.  Moreover, the Fellow would gain invaluable hands-on experience in the conduct and practice of administrative law in the federal government under the guidance of seasoned Judges.

The Peggy Browning Fellow working at the Commission would have the opportunity to attend oral argument on cases before the Commission.  The Fellow also may be present at various staff discussions of the cases and interact with Administrative Law Judges and counsels.  If a Commission case is argued in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Fellow would have an opportunity to attend.  On the lighter side, there are occasional gatherings of staff to see mine-related movies.

The total ten-week stipend for this fellowship will be $5,000.

Address cover letter to:

Michelle Williams, Esq.
Hearing Office Director
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
601 New Jersey Avenue NW, Suite 9500
Washington, DC 20001-2021