7 CFR § 1.426 - Appeal to Judicial Officer.
(a)Filing of petition. Within 10 calendar days after receiving service of the Judge's decision, a party who disagrees with the decision, or any part thereof, or any ruling by the Judge or any alleged deprivation of rights, may appeal such decision to the Judicial Officer by filing an appeal petition with the Hearing Clerk. As provided in § 1.422(e)(2), objections regarding evidence or a limitation regarding examination or cross-examination or other rulings made before the Judge may be relied upon in an appeal. Each issue set forth in the petition, and the arguments thereon, shall be separately numbered; shall be plainly and concisely stated; and shall contain detailed citations of the record, statutes, regulations or authorities being relied upon in support thereof. A brief may be filed in support of the appeal simultaneously with the petition. A party filing a petition of appeal to the Judicial Officer, and any brief in support thereof, shall serve the other parties to the proceeding with a copy of the petition and supporting brief. The copies of the petition and supporting brief shall be served on the parties to the proceeding with a copy of the petition and supporting brief. The copies of the petition and supporting brief shall be served on the parties to the proceeding on the same day as the petition and supporting brief are filed with the Judicial Officer.
(b)Response to appeal petition. Within 10 calendar days after the service of a copy of an appeal petition and any brief in support thereof, filed by a party to the proceeding, any other party may file with the Hearing Clerk a response in support of or in opposition to the appeal and in such response any relevant issue, not presented in the appeal petition, may be raised. A party filing a response to a petition of appeal to the Judicial Officer shall serve the other parties to the proceeding with a copy of the response. The copies of the response shall be served on the parties to the proceeding on the same day as the response is filed with the Judicial Officer.
(c)Transmittal of record. Whenever an appeal of a Judge's decision is filed and a response thereto has been filed or time for filing a response has expired, the Hearing Clerk shall transmit to the Judicial Officer the record of the proceeding. Such record shall include: The pleadings; motions and requests filed and rulings thereon; the transcript of the testimony taken at the hearing, together with the exhibits filed in connection therewith; any documents or papers filed in connection with a prehearing conference; such proposed findings of fact, conclusions, and orders, and briefs in support thereof, as may have been filed in connection with the proceeding; the Judge's decision; such exceptions, statements of objections and briefs in support thereof as may have been filed in the proceeding; and the appeal petition, and such briefs in support thereof and responses thereto as may have been filed in the proceeding.
(d)Decision of the Judicial Officer on appeal. The Judicial Officer, upon the basis of and after due consideration of the record and any matter of which official notice is taken, shall rule on the appeal within 4 months after the institution of the proceeding, pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 620b(c)(3). If the Judicial Officer decides that no change or modification of the Judge's decision is warranted, the Judicial Officer may adopt the Judge's decision as the final order in the proceeding, preserving any right of the party bringing the appeal to seek judicial review of such decision in the proper forum. A final order issued by the Judicial Officer shall be filed with the Hearing Clerk. Such order may be regarded by a party as final for purposes of judicial review.