If the state accuses your business of violating SNAP rules, you risk losing your ability to accept SNAP payments. This can put your entire business at risk. Fortunately, there’s a way that you can ask a court to review the government’s decision to suspend your business’ participation in the SNAP program. 7 U.S. Code § 2023 (a)(13) gives you the right to a judicial review of an administrative action because of an alleged SNAP violation.
When does a judicial review happen?
A judicial review occurs after an administrative review. It’s up to the business owner to decide whether to file a judicial action. The business owner has just thirty days to file the court action after the administrative reviewer issues their decision. If the business owner doesn’t get this court action filed on time, they lose their right to bring the case.
How do I file for a judicial review?
A judicial review begins by filing a case in the appropriate U.S. District Court. It’s up to the person who wants to challenge the administrative decision to file the case in court. The opposing party is the United States. You must serve the other side in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for U.S. District Courts.
How does it work?
A judicial appeal proceeds much like any other court case. It’s a de novo hearing. That means, the judge makes their decision from scratch without considering what happened during the administrative review. That means that you have to carefully prepare your case with admissible evidence. You need to gather evidence that you can present in court under the Federal Rules of Evidence.
The court may allow a period for discovery. This process allows you to discover the witnesses that the government may call at trial. You may have the opportunity to conduct depositions of these witnesses in order to find out what they plan to say. This can make your questioning in court more effective.
Usually, the parties have an opportunity to file court motions before the trial. This might include filing paperwork to ask the court to allow or refuse to allow certain evidence at the hearing. You might need to respond to a motion from the government’s attorney asking them to dismiss the case. Either side may ask the court to award summary disposition. Summary disposition occurs where the parties agree on enough facts to allow the court to make a decision without hearing anything else.
The period before trial may also include settlement negotiations. Your attorney can help you discuss the case with the government’s counsel to see if you can find common ground. You may be able to reach an agreement that dismisses the case and allows you to get back to work.
If you don’t reach a resolution, your case proceeds to trial. You may need to testify in court. The judge hears all of the evidence and then renders a decision. There’s no right to a jury trial for a SNAP judicial appeal. The judge is the person who presides over the case and makes the ultimate decision.
What happens while I wait?
You might wonder if the reviewer’s decision goes into place while you wait for your trail. If you don’t want the reviewer’s decision to go into effect, you need to ask the court to issue what’s called a stay. For the judge to grant a stay, you must be able to show that you’re likely to win the case based on the merits of your position. You must also show irreparable harm is likely to result if the administrative decision goes into effect before the court can hear the case and make a decision.
Does the government have to pay me back?
If the court denies you the administrative stay, you still may succeed in your case and receive a favorable decision. Even if that’s the case, you still don’t have any right to compensation from the government for lost sales while the administrative decision is in effect. This is important to keep in mind when you’re considering whether to reach an agreement with the government before the case goes to trial.
What are the possible outcomes?
The court has the option to uphold the reviewer’s decision or vacate it. They might also decide to do something different. It’s important to clearly tell the court what you’re asking them to do when you present your case.
What happens if I don’t like the verdict?
If you don’t like the outcome from the U.S. District Court, you can appeal the decision to the U.S. Circuit Court. If you decide to appeal, the circuit court judges review the record form the district court. You could even take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although it’s unusual for a case to go that far, our experience can help you make the best possible decisions in your case.
How can an attorney help?
Our team of SNAP violation judicial appeals attorneys has a wealth of training and experience that can help you prepare a strong case and file it properly. No matter where you’re at in the process, we offer professional services that aim to advocate for you to the fullest extent of the law. We work meticulously to review the facts and the law and prepare your case.
We begin by looking at the current status of the case. If you’ve already had an administrative review, we want to look at what went right and what went wrong. We look at what we might be able to do differently in order to reach a different result in U.S. District Court. To prepare for trial, we carefully build your case with an eye towards the Rules of Evidence. We aim to gather admissible evidence that tells your side of the story.
Your loved ones depend on you. Your customers also depend on you. It’s our goal to help you resolve your case and get back to business as quickly as possible. We see ourselves as your teammate and advocate. We have the training and experience to help you pursue your case and work towards a positive resolution. If you’re facing a SNAP violation, please contact us today.