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A Guide to Practice before the Interior Board of Land Appeals

Will A. Irwin, Natural Resources and Environmental Administrative Law and Procedure II

he IBLA currently has twelve administrative judges. Appeals are assigned in rotation to a lead judge and a concurring judge in the order they are filed, without regard to subject matter. The exception is appeals from royalty decisions of the Minerals Management Service, which are assigned separately in rotation due to the 33-month time limit for deciding appeals imposed by 30 U.S.C. § 1724(h) (1994).

Each judge is free to manage his or her docket in his or her discretion, and has the assistance of one staff attorney in doing so. As a result, although there are some general guidelines governing all judges (e.g., work on oldest cases first, subject to dealing with motions, petitions for stay, and expedited cases promptly), practice before IBLA may vary. That is, different judges may handle similar circumstances differently.

There is an extensive literature about IBLA practice and procedure. (See the references listed at the conclusion of this paper.) This paper is a selection of reminders, precedents, and recent developments. It is based on a survey of recent IBLA decisions and orders and suggestions from colleagues, but it is the work of only one member of IBLA and therefore does not represent the views of all members. And, of course, it does not represent the official view of either IBLA or the Department of the Interior.

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