Judicial Appeal of SNAP Disqualification
A Judicial Appeal of a USDA SNAP Disqualification is the last line of defense after the United States Department of Agriculture has turned your EBT machine off. To reach this stage, you have already been through the SNAP Violation Letter and the administrative appeal process through the Department’s Division of Administrative Review. However, this stage may be your best opportunity to curb the damage that has already been done to your store, and to get your EBT system functioning again.
Why Choose BLG to Handle Your USDA SNAP Case?
It has been our experience that many stores choose to have local attorneys handle their USDA SNAP Violation letters. Though local attorneys mean well, the USDA SNAP administrative program is a highly specialized, nuanced and complicated area of the law. Inexperienced attorneys may make mistakes in SNAP cases without ever knowing what they’ve done, and without you ever finding out.
Our team at BLG has worked tirelessly since the United States Congress reauthorized the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2014 to learn this area of the law thoroughly, and to represent your needs. Our staff of attorneys have handled federal appeals of USDA SNAP disqualifications and know the positions and tactics regularly utilized by the USDA in court. Furthermore, our clients benefit from our vast experience in knowing what tactics and arguments work, and where the USDA’s cases are the weakest.
There are fewer than a handful of law firms in the United States that handle USDA SNAP regulatory law, and of those (whose information is readily available) our office is the most experienced and the most focused on retailer representation.
What is a USDA SNAP Judicial Appeal?
A USDA SNAP Judicial Appeal is a lawsuit that your store can file against the United States Department of Agriculture under 7 CFR §279 and 7 USC §2023 to appeal the Administrative Review Division’s Final Determination that your store should be permanently disqualified from SNAP (usually for trafficking). The Judicial Appeal functions just like a regular civil litigation lawsuit, with the added complication of having the United States of American as the Defendant.
The lawsuit has three phases:
- Pleading Phase: This is where we submit our Complaint against the United States to the district court (in the State in which your business operates), and when (after sixty days) the United States responds to our allegations with an Answer or a Motion to Dismiss (depending upon the case). Typically, this part of the litigation can take up to eighty days to complete (allowing time for service of process and other procedural delays).
- Discovery/Motion Phase: This phase is where we collect all of the evidence that is pertinent to your case and put together motions that we can use to help move the case along, or resolve it faster. The most frequent motions we use include a Motion to Abate Disqualification (in an effort to end your suspension for the pendency of the litigation) and a Motion for Summary Judgment (in which we ask the Court to consider the undisputed evidence and enter an order in our favor upon the pleadings – also designed to end the case faster).
- Trial Phase: The trial phase of the litigation is the culmination of all of the work you have put in since first receiving the SNAP Violation letter all those months ago. Though the trial on the case is only before a judge (no jury is permitted under the regulations or the United States Code), the judge may hear the case in the same manner and procedure in which every other trial occurs. The Court will consider the details of your store, the allegations set forth by the USDA, and come to a determination as to whether or not he or she believes your firm violated the SNAP regulations.
After the USDA SNAP Judicial Appeal
In the event the judicial appeal results in an unfavorable decision, a store may appeal the decision to the circuit court of appeals where the appellate judges can review the evidence, the decision made by the judge and the process through which your store has been stripped of its EBT retailer status. If the circuit court of appeals does not agree with the store’s position, or if the appellate court decides not to reverse the entire disqualification or suspension, then the United States Supreme Court may have final say.
Most cases do not proceed even so far as the circuit court of appeals. However, our office works to advise you of your choices and options throughout our representation in a meaningful and complete way.
How to Retain BLG for your SNAP Judicial Appeal
Act quickly before your rights run out! You may have only a matter of days before your appeal deadline expires, so don’t hesitate to call us and set a consultation at your earliest convenience.