Inquisitorial versus Adversarial
If agencies are going to act without the prior approval of the courts, there must be some way to ensure that their actions are proper. The court system operates on adversarial principles, depending on the parties before it to bring out the facts through their own arguments. The judge is a referee to ensure fairness and consistent procedure. The judge is not an expert in the matters before the court, nor is the judge expected (or even permitted in some courts) to question the witnesses and comment on the evidence presented by the parties before the court. The credibility of the evidence is judged by a jury, selected to be impartial, not to be knowledgeable about the subject matter. If one side is poorly represented, or not represented at all, then that party’s evidence will not be presented and the case will be decided on the evidence presented by the opposing party. This will generally ensure that the unrepresented party loses, thus the courts have ruled that the state must provide counsel to all defendants or their rights will be so compromised as to constitute a constitutional violation. Agency law is based on a different model, the inquisitorial system. The agency is charged with finding the best solution to a problem, based on using its own expertise and that of outside experts. Unlike a prosecutor or private litigant, the agency is expected to consider and present both sides of a controversy.