Rhode Island Court Review of Administrative Tribunal

The Administrative Procedures Act, G.L. 1956 42-35-15 provides for judicial review of the Dealers' Office's and the Department's decisions by this Court. The Act provides in pertinent part: (a) any person who has exhausted all administrative remedies available to him within the agency, and who is aggrieved by a final order in a contested case is entitled to judicial review under this chapter. (f) the review shall be conducted by the court without a jury and shall be confined to the record. (g) the court shall not substitute its judgment for that of the agency as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. the court may affirm the decision of the agency or remand the case for further proceedings, or it may reverse or modify the decision if substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the administrative findings, inferences [sic], conclusions, or decisions are: (1) In violation of constitutional or statutory provisions; (2) In excess of the statutory authority of the agency; (3) Made upon unlawful procedure; (4) Affected by other error or law; (5) Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record; or (6) Arbitrary or capricious or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion." In essence, the reviewing court gives deference to the decision of the administrative tribunal. The reviewing court may vacate the decision of the tribunal if it is "clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative and substantial evidence contained in the whole record." Costa v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, 543 A.2d 1307 (R.I. 1988). Additionally, the Court conducts a de novo review of questions of law. "The court does not weigh evidence or findings of fact but merely reviews them to see whether they support the agency's decision." St. Pius Parish Corp. v. Murray, 557 A.2d 1214 (R.I. 1989). "If there is sufficient competent evidence in the record, the court must uphold the agency's decision." Johnston Ambulatory v. Nolan, 755 A.2d 799 (R.I. 2000).