(a) An administrative law judge shall stay any contested case under this Article on motion of an agency which is a party to the contested case, if the agency shows by supporting affidavits that it is engaged in other litigation or administrative proceedings, by whatever name called, with or before a federal agency, and this other litigation or administrative proceedings will determine the position, in whole or in part, of the agency in the contested case. At the conclusion of the other litigation or administrative proceedings, the contested case shall proceed and be determined as expeditiously as possible.
(b) An administrative law judge may:
(1) Administer oaths and affirmations;
(2) Sign, issue, and rule on subpoenas in accordance with G.S. 150B-27 and G.S. 1A-1, Rule 45;
(3) Provide for the taking of testimony by deposition and rule on all objections to discovery in accordance with G.S. 1A-1, the Rules of Civil Procedure;
(3a) Rule on all prehearing motions that are authorized by G.S. 1A-1, the Rules of Civil Procedure;
(4) Regulate the course of the hearings, including discovery, set the time and place for continued hearings, and fix the time for filing of briefs and other documents;
(5) Direct the parties to appear and confer to consider simplification of the issues by consent of the parties;
(6) Stay the contested action by the agency pending the outcome of the case, upon such terms as he deems proper, and subject to the provisions of G.S. 1A-1, Rule 65;
(7) Determine whether the hearing shall be recorded by a stenographer or by an electronic device; and
(8) Enter an order returnable in the General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, to show cause why the person should not be held in contempt. The Court shall have the power to impose punishment as for contempt for any act which would constitute direct or indirect contempt if the act occurred in an action pending in Superior Court.
(9) Determine that a rule as applied in a particular case is void because (1) it is not within the statutory authority of the agency, (2) is not clear and unambiguous to persons it is intended to direct, guide, or assist, or (3) is not reasonably necessary to enable the agency to fulfill a duty delegated to it by the General Assembly.
(10) Impose the sanctions provided for in G.S. 1A-1 or Chapter 3 of Title 26 of the North Carolina Administrative Code for noncompliance with applicable procedural rules.
(11) Order the assessment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and witnesses’ fees against the State agency involved in contested cases decided under this Article where the administrative law judge finds that the State agency named as respondent has substantially prejudiced the petitioner’s rights and has acted arbitrarily or capriciously or under Chapter 126 where the administrative law judge finds discrimination, harassment, or orders reinstatement or back pay.