In the event that you get accused of violating SNAP laws at your place of business, you are exposed to the risk of losing the privilege of accepting EBT cards from your customers. This kind of loss can jeopardize your whole business. Mercifully, you as the owner retain the right to have a court review the government’s verdict to end your participation in the SNAP program as a retailer. 7 U.S. Code § 2023 (a)(13) provides you the right to a judicial review of an administrative action caused by an alleged SNAP violation.
When can I get a Judicial Review?
After an administrative review, you can file for a Judicial Review. It is up to you as the proprietor to decide whether to file a judicial action. If you do, you only have thirty days to get the court action in after the administrative reviewer hands down their decision. If it so happens that the business owner doesn’t get this court action in on time, they lose their right to bring a case.
How do I go about filing a Judicial Review?
The first step is to file a case in the appropriate U.S. District Court. Whoever desires to refute the administrative decision must be the individual who files the case in the court, naming the opposing party as the United States of America. Representatives for the USA (the defendant) need to receive service in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the U.S. District Courts.
What is the Judicial Review procedure like?
A judicial appeal functions similarly to other court cases. It is also commonly referred to as a “de novo” hearing. In a de novo hearing, the judge hands down a decision from scratch without examining the details of what happened during the administrative review. This makes it absolutely imperative that you do thorough and in-depth preparation for your case, complete with admissible evidence. You are going to have to gather evidence to be presented in court under the Federal Rules of Evidence.
You may be allowed a period for discovery by the district court. It has that name because during this period, you are allowed to discover any witnesses that the government may call at trial. Furthermore, you may be afforded the opportunity to depose the government’s witnesses so that you can determine in advance what they are going to say. This can assist you greatly in preparing for effective questioning in the courtroom.
For the most part, the opposing parties are granted the opportunity to file court motions in advance of the trial. Filings might contain documents that ask the court to permit or refuse to allow certain evidence at the hearing. You may be obligated to respond to a motion from the government’s lawyers asking them to dismiss the case. Either side has the ability to ask the court to award summary disposition. A summary disposition can be awarded when the parties mutually come to the conclusion that enough facts are present to support the court in coming to a decision without hearing anything more.
The pretrial period can also include settlement negotiations. A well-versed lawyer can be an asset in discussions with the government’s counsel to figure out if you can connect somewhere on middle ground. You may indeed arrive successfully at an agreement that provides for the dismissal of the case and gives you a chance to get back to work.
In the event that no resolution is reached, the case proceeds to trial. You might be called upon to testify in court. The judge will hear all of the evidence and then render a verdict. You have no right to a jury trial for a SNAP judicial appeal. The judge is the sole individual presiding over the case and he or she has the final say.
What is going on while I am waiting?
Grocery store owners often wonder if the reviewer’s decision gets submitted while you await your trial date. If you do not want the reviewer’s decision to go into effect, you will need to be certain to ask the court to issue a stay. For a judge to grant you a stay, you need to be able to show the court that you’re likely to win your case based upon the merits of your position. The burden is also on you to demonstrate that irreparable damage is likely to result if the administrative verdict goes into effect before the court can hear the case and make a decision.
Does the government pay me back losses?
If it so happens that the court denies you an administrative stay, you could still win your case and wind up with a favorable verdict. Unfortunately, regardless of whether that happens or not, you are not due any compensation from the government for the sales you lost while the administrative decision was in effect. This is important to think about as you decide whether to negotiate an agreement with the opposition before the case goes to trial.
What results can I expect?
At times, the court will exercise the option to uphold the reviewer’s decision. Other times, they decide to vacate it. There is another course of action they could take. It is vital that you clearly communicate to the court exactly what you’re asking of them when you bring your case.
What if the outcome is not in my favor?
Grocers who are displeased with a decision of the U.S. District Courts have the right to appeal the district court’s verdict to the U.S. Circuit Court. In an appeal, the circuit court judges look over the record from the district court. In fact, you could take your case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if you don’t get satisfaction in the lower courts. While it’s highly irregular for a case to reach so far, our experienced legal counsel can assist you in making the best possible choices.
What can a SNAP lawyer do for me?
The SNAP violation judicial appeals attorneys at our firm have a wealth of education and experience that can be an asset to you in preparing and bringing an airtight case and filing it properly. No matter what point you are at in the process, we provide highly professional legal services that successfully fight for you to the fullest extent of the law. We work very hard to review the facts and the law and put together your case.
From day one, we will thoroughly review the current status of the case. If you are beyond the point of administrative review, we will then figure out what worked in your favor and what was unsuccessful. We can figure out how to handle things differently to win better results in the U.S. District Court. To prepare for trial, we painstakingly build your case with our focus on the Rules of Evidence. We are diligent about gathering admissible evidence that effectively presents your side of the story.
Your family and dependents are counting on you. Your customers and your community are also interested in seeing you succeed. We make it our business to stand by your side until you get a resolution to your case and so you can get back to business as fast as possible. Our role is as your partner and advocate. The training and experience our lawyers have under their belts are there for you, to help move your case in the right direction and push towards a positive result. If you’re a grocery store proprietor who has been accused of a SNAP violation, please get in touch with us today.