Friday, March 31, 2023

The Meaning Of Shall

The Mississippi Supreme Court has disbarred an attorney

On March 2, 2022, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Patrick, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, an executive branch agency of the United States, pied guilty to and was convicted of three counts of the unauthorized representation of claims against the government in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 205(a)(2) and216(a)(2) and three counts of making false statements to a federal agency in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 100l(a)(2). Patrick was sentenced to serve two years of probation on each count, to run concurrently.


In her answer, Patrick admits the offenses constitute a felony, but she asserts that this Court is not obligated to enter an order of disbarment based on the language of Rules 6(a) and ( d) because the United States Supreme Court has concluded that "shall" does not constitute a word of obligation. In support, Patrick relies on Gutierrez de Martinez v. Lamagno, 515 U.S. 417, 115 S. Ct. 2227, 132 L. Ed. 2d 375 (1995). But Patrick's reliance on Lamagno is misplaced. 

Press release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi

According to the Indictment, from August 2017 through March 2019, Patrick acted as an attorney, outside her official duties as Rural Development Loan Specialist, to represent claimants before the Social Security Administration seeking increased federal benefits.  In each case where she entered her appearance as an attorney representing the claimant before the Social Security Administrative Law Judge, Patrick filed an official form with the Social Security Administration, stating that she was not disqualified or otherwise prohibited as a federal employee from representing the claimant.  In fact, as Patrick knew, such statement was false, because, as an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she was prohibited by law and regulation from representing claimants against the United States in the Social Security Administration.

(Mike Frisch)

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