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Lawyer’s Lack of License Imperils Huge Federal Settlement


— December 19, 2004

A $650 million deal to compensate thousands of African American farmers, who alleged bias in U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, could unravel because a Santa Cruz woman worked as a federal attorney on the settlement without ever passing the bar, officials said Saturday.

The woman, Margaret O’Shea, 38, also has been charged with grand theft after working for the Monterey County public defender’s office earlier this year defending indigents accused of crimes.

The county is reviewing all 83 cases she handled there in a three-week period and might dismiss some of them because defendants and court officials mistakenly thought O’Shea was a licensed attorney.

This seems to happen over and over again. One would think these employers would check credentials at the time of hiring. Apparently not. Details here from the San Francisco Chronicle.


A $650 million deal to compensate thousands of African American farmers, who alleged bias in U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, could unravel because a Santa Cruz woman worked as a federal attorney on the settlement without ever passing the bar, officials said Saturday.

The woman, Margaret O’Shea, 38, also has been charged with grand theft after working for the Monterey County public defender’s office earlier this year defending indigents accused of crimes.

The county is reviewing all 83 cases she handled there in a three-week period and might dismiss some of them because defendants and court officials mistakenly thought O’Shea was a licensed attorney.

This seems to happen over and over again. One would think these employers would check credentials at the time of hiring. Apparently not. Details here from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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