Usually venue will lie in the county where the agency hearing was held, particularly if it was a major city like Sacramento or Los Angeles. Sometimes you can elect to file in Sacramento, even if the hearing was held elsewhere, because that court has permisssive jurisdiction over a number of agencies. If the agency consents to jurisdiction in, say, Los Angeles, even though the hearing was held in Sacramento, no problem. Let's take a look at your case, examine your options, weigh the pros and cons of each permissive venue, and make a good decision.
Initially, the first attorney's response was entirely accurate. OAH is under contract with the state of CA to adjudicate administrative hearings from professional licensing to special education. Many matters over which the OAH has jurisdiction (such as special education) have the appeal/writ/review process set forth in the authorizing legislation. To the extent the authorizing legislation (such as the IDEA for special education) specifies a process for seeking judicial review, that process is nearly always the exclusive option for parties aggrieved by the administrative-level decision/ruling. When the process is specified by the legislation, the legislative scheme nearly always speaks to where subject matter jurisdiction lies and where venue is proper.
When the substantive law is silent, procedures for review are sometimes set by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The OAH also maintains a compilation of procedural rules to which it adheres on its website. Where the APA is either not applicable or is silent and the substantive law is also silent, the OAH will look to state rules of civil procedure, and so too will courts sitting in review of the agency decision.
In other words, the answer to your question is informed by many possible sources of law and by the nature of the OAH action for which you seek review. We would have to discuss these matters in order to identify the proper procedural vehicle to seek judicial review in your case. I too am happy to speak with you about this matter.
Law Offices of Bonnie Z. Yates
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This is not legal advice and the within response does not create an attorney client relationship between this office/me and any other person or entity. Hans Gillinger Of Counsel Law Offices of Bonnie Z. Yates 13323 Washington Blvd., Suite 300 Los Angeles, CA 90066 tel: (310) 204-6624 fax: (310) 204-6624 Direct: (310) 279-5048 Email: email@example.com web: bonniezyates.com