Grenada Daily Star, Mississippi USA.
Friday, September 08, 2006.
Although Attorney Pshon Barrett has a visual impairment disability, she is by no means disabled.
Barrett has been an attorney at the U. S. Attorney's Office in Jackson for 25 years. She transferred to the civil division of the office three years after she began her career as a criminal prosecutor. Currently, she performs the duties of a financial litigation attorney.
She handles cases regarding government debt collection, health care fraud and student loans. In addition, Barrett deals with cases regarding the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and any case that is not criminal.
"It's a very good place to work. You have an opportunity to serve the public and represent the people in enforcing laws," said Barrett.
Barrett has two major responsibilities in the civil division. She defends the government when private individuals and businesses sue. At the same time, she handles cases involving employment discrimination, according to Al Jernigan, Civil Division chief.
Another of Barrett's duties includes the collection of overpayment of funding from providers such as Medicaid and Medicare and affirmative civil enforcements involving people with disabilities, according to Jernigan.
Barrett's extensive administrative trial experience has encouraged people from all over the nation to seek her consultation.
"She's made herself available to the public which is difficult for a lawyer. She responds to everyone. Her availability has given our office more provisions to people with disabilities," said Jernigan.
According to Barrett, Attorney Dan Lynn presented her the Sustained Superior Performance Award in the Civil Division for 2005-2006. She also accepted the appointment to the Attorney General's Advisory Committee on Disability Employment made by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Barrett has been recognized as a national expert for the American Disability Act (ADA). She has executed tours of duty in Washington to enforce the ADA, according to Jernigan.
"She would be an asset in any office. She really has been for the southern district," said Jernigan.
Due to her disability, Barrett uses technology that aids in her work. She uses a computer that recites material on the screen, a Braille printer and an optical scanner that scans words and images to the computer, according to Barrett.
Despite all the technological advances available to increase Barrett's self-sufficiency, she said her primary obstacle in life has been the attitudes of people.
"Not many blind people go into this (law) field. If people don't know how I handle reading and other things of that nature, they're not sure of what to expect," said Barrett.
Barrett plans to retire from the attorney's office in four years and pursue a second career in the disability rights field.
Most of Barrett's community service is performed through Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson where she attends. She teaches Sunday school, sings solo and plays the piano, according to Pshon's mother Freddie Barrett of Grenada.
"She's a fine Christian girl who travels a lot with her work," said Freddie.
Barrett supports the Homeowner's Association. She is the chairman of the Board for the Mississippi Industries for the Blind and vice president of the Americans for the Visually Impaired Attorneys. She also sits on the Mississippi Council for the Blind, according to Pshon.
Being born three months premature led to Barrett's blindness. Although she was born with the disability, her parents did not raise her to be disabled. She was encouraged and disciplined as every other child her age. As a child, she was very rambunctious and active, according to Freddie.
After graduating from the Mississippi School for the Blind, Barrett attended Belhaven in Jackson. She earned a Master's Degree in History from Mississippi State University. In 1979, she graduated from the University of Mississippi Law School. During her years in school, she relied on readers to relay information to her, according to Pshon.
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