DOHA Judge Gets Clearance Denial Case Remanded for Inserting Personal Opinions
Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals (DOHA) judges are supposed to review facts presented in security clearance appeal cases and use the adjudicative guidelines to determine if national security concerns were mitigated or not. Impartiality and putting aside personal views and biases are necessary traits in order for judges to make decisions. It seems one such judge forgot about these important factors and had his decision denying the applicant clearance eligibility remanded due to interjecting personal experiences and opinions into his decision-making process. Here is a quick summary of the case:
The applicant was denied a clearance by the agency for concerns under financial consideration and alcohol consumption that had led to criminal charges. He was issued a Statement of Reasons (SOR) and the applicant requested a hearing with DOHA and the denial was upheld. The applicant filed a subsequent appeal alleging the judge had questioned him about taking a Xanax pill not prescribed to him, which was not an issue covered in the original SOR. The appeal transcripts also showed the judge kept inserting personal life experiences into the conversation and provided unsolicited advice as to what the applicant “should have” done or not done. The subsequent appeals judge found merit in the allegations laid forth by the applicant, acknowledging the original appeals judge had been biased, made several procedural errors, and did not afford the applicant the full due process he was entitled to. The case was remanded back to another DOHA judge for a new hearing.