Quasi-Judicial Power Definition

Quasi-judicial power is defined as "an administrative agency's power to adjudicate the rights of those who appear before it." (Black's Law Dict. (7th ed. 1999) p. 1190, italics added.) It is well settled that nonjudicial boards and officers may be vested with "quasi-judicial" power to determine facts and exercise discretion. ( East Bay M. U. Dist. v. Dept. of P. Wks. (1934) 1 Cal. 2d 476, 479 35 P.2d 1027; Gaylord v. Pasadena (1917) 175 Cal. 433, 436-438 166 P. 348.) However, the exercise of quasi-judicial power requires an impartial decision maker. ( B. C. Cotton, Inc. v. Voss (1995) 33 Cal. App. 4th 929, 954 39 Cal. Rptr. 2d 484.) As a result, legislative attempts to confer quasi-judicial power upon interested parties, such as boards comprised of industry representatives, have been condemned. ( Id. at p. 954, fn. 18; see also Nissan Motor Corp. v. New Motor Vehicle Bd. (1984) 153 Cal. App. 3d 109, 113-116 202 Cal. Rptr. 1.) We begin our analysis with a review of basic concepts. "The essential characteristic of a quasi-judicial body is its fact finding power and the concomitant requirement to make a determination or adjudication of fact in connection with matters properly submitted to it after a hearing." (Le Strange v. City of Berkeley (1962) 210 Cal. App. 2d 313, 323 26 Cal. Rptr. 550; See also People v. Sims (1982) 32 Cal. 3d 468, 479-480 186 Cal. Rptr. 77, 651 P.2d 321, declined to follow on other grounds in Lucido v. Superior Court (1990) 51 Cal. 3d 335, 349-350 272 Cal. Rptr. 767, 795 P.2d 1223, 2 A.L.R.5th 995 factors indicating administrative proceedings and determinations possessed a "judicial character" relevant in determining whether agency acted "in a judicial capacity".) However, the fact an administrative officer exercises judgment and discretion in the performance of his or her duties does not make these actions or powers judicial in character. (East Bay M. U. Dist. v. Dept. of P. Wks., supra, 1 Cal. 2d at p. 479 judicial act is one determining "what the law is and what the rights of parties are".)