Department Counsel is appealing. Any feedback?

After 3 years of blood, sweat, and tears of my family and me waiting for my security clearance to be granted by the DOHA it happened! It happened without an attorney. Just myself, my hard work, and my amazing witnesses. Then, I received a life-changing offer letter from my dream job. Then, a few days ago I received an unforeseen Notice of Appeal by the Department’s Counsel. That’s when I made the decision to get an attorney, as I am not taking any more chances. I have not received the brief yet. Counsel has a month to get that in… I am writing to see if anyone had any or knows of any experience similar to mine and what the outcomes were. I trust my attorney, but I feel very alone in this situation. I seemed to have celebrated too soon. I also appreciate any feedback. Anything to understand what I am faced with. There’s not much on the internet about this and have yet to find any appeal cases where the Department’s Counsel is the one to appeal. I appreciate all who respond. Thank you.

I say the following with no undue emotional attachment.

These lawyers exist to stop people from getting clearances. I have never seen such a stunning lack of professionalism from any single position in my life, and I worked in several restaurants.

The Appeal lawyer didn’t proofread anything she wrote, screwed up my case number on one occasion (extra month of waiting for me), changed my sex from “him” to “her” more than once, referenced super obscure DOHA case law (which you now have to get acquainted with) to try to justify the cherrypicking she did…it was a nightmare. The Board ultimately reversed my case after 2 positive determinations from an Admin Judge but you should stay positive here.

What you need to do:

  • in addition to your lawyer, I would spend as much time as possible reading relevant DOHA case law. I’m deadly serious, go to the DOHA site, find cases with affirmative decisions relevant to whatever category you’re getting pinged for, digest the material thoroughly, chat about it with your lawyer, and quote their own case law back to them. You can only justify yourself on their terms - they don’t care about anything outside their own codexes/precedent.
  • Be extremely, inhumanely consistent in all documentation. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t lie to make yourself sound better. My Appeals Lawyer went to the ends of the earth to misrepresent me as a human being based on the materials from my case, but I stuck to my guns, submitted relevant docs, and got two approvals from an Admin Judge. You already have an approval. Stay true to your case materials!
  • Use your approval to your advantage. Chances are if you received a positive decision, the Administrative Judges know what they’re doing and made a good determination. Quote the Judge’s words back to them, especially since you get the comfort of crafting a Response to the Appeal.
  • Don’t get down - you DO have a chance to hold on to what you’ve earned. My reversal was very, very likely due to geopolitical factors the DOD knew about in 2021 (hinting at Eastern Europe and I’ll keep it at that).
  • Strap in for a long haul. I got an approval in March, Notice of Appeal in April, and the Board only responded in July. You’re likely not going to start work any time soon. Make sure you’re financially secure in the meantime.

Keeping my fingers crossed!


I second the advice about getting ready for the long haul. My clearance got suspended 18 months ago and no resolution in sight.

Wow! I am forever grateful for your detailed response. I will take every point you’ve made and put it into action. My heart goes out to you when you told me about your denial. I can tell, you too, understand the grueling process of a security clearance. It has caused so much emotional and mental stress for my family and me. My prosecutor is one heck of a guy… For me to show up to the hearing with my offer letter in hand, then the judge granting me access, and for him to attempt to try to rip away this opportunity… I have a lot of words, but me saying them won’t change the reality.

I actually took every hearing and appeal posted on the DOHA site and condensed it into one PDF, so I can easily locate similar cases with similar outcomes. It has been frustrating to see zero appeals outcomes when the prosecutor is the one who appeals. There’s none to be found making me think how rare this happens. I took in beneficial information from the documents to help me with my own brief and I will share this with my lawyer.

I have also come to terms that the prosecutor just delayed my employment. Such is life. I am now just obsessively checking the mailbox for that brief. I would love to know his reasoning for why he thinks the judge did not follow the law.

Thank you again for your response and your kind words. You’ve given me the sense of hope that I needed. I will keep you updated!