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A Primer on the Compilation and Use of the Administrative Record in Public Land Litigation

K. Jack Haugrud, Proceedings of 58th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (2012)

In all but exceptional situations, judicial review of decisions made by public land agencies is confined to the administrative record. The record is the documentary trail that shows the decision-making process, the basis for the decision, and the final decision. Ensuring that a complete record is presented to the reviewing court is thus critical, whether you represent an agency defendant, a defendant intervenor seeking to preserve an agency decision, or a plaintiff seeking to invalidate the decision.
This chapter provides a primer on the law of the administrative record and addresses a number of issues important to parties involved in litigation over public land decisions. First, the case law establishing the rule of record review is explored, followed by a discussion of the precedent and informal agency guidance that governs the preparation of administrative records. The circumstances under which a proffered record can be supplemented or extra-record evidence presented to a court are then examined. Finally, the chapter provides a brief overview on how parties anticipating or engaging in litigation can informally help to ensure that all relevant materials are included in the record.
§ 22.02 The Record Review Rule
The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) provides for judicial review of final agency action.2 The APA also sets forth the standard of judicial review for ch