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LLCs must have attorneys in federal court

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Owners of limited liability companies must be represented by an attorney to appeal a decision in federal court, ruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals today. Because a company and its president appealed a District Court's decision without an attorney, the appellate court dismissed the appeal.

In United States of America v. Derrik Hagerman and Wabash Environmental Technologies, LLC, No. 08-2670, Wabash and its president, Derrik Hagerman, appealed the District Court's dismissal of the government's petition for relief after Wabash agreed to start paying restitution and furnish specific financial information. The defendants were convicted of criminal violations of the Clean Water Act and ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution and placed on five years of probation.

The 7th Circuit dismissed Hagerman's appeal because he wasn't a party to the probation-violation proceeding and no order naming him was entered, wrote Judge Richard Posner. Wabash's appeal also must be dismissed because they are proceeding pro se with the appeal, which can't be done in a federal court.

Hagerman claimed, as president and "member" of Wabash, he can represent the company in proceedings. But corporations aren't permitted to litigate in federal court unless represented by an attorney who is licensed to practice in that court, and the same applies to LLCs, wrote the judge. Even though the appellate court hadn't ruled on whether an LLC can litigate only if represented by a lawyer, the same rule applies.

The right to conduct business confers privileges, and one of those is the obligation to hire an attorney if you want to sue or defend on behalf of the company, Judge Posner wrote.

"Pro se litigation is a burden on the judiciary ... and the burden is not to be borne when the litigant has chosen to do business in entity form. He must take the burdens with the benefits," he wrote.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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