Forfeiture Endangers American Rights

Resources for legal help to the indigent

 Compiled by Leon Felkins.  Updated March 20, 2004 by Brenda Grantland

It is acknowledged by just about everyone that the quality of justice you get in the American justice system depends on how much money you have to retain counsel. 
Since forfeiture victims have almost by definition, little or no resources and since there is generally no Constitutional requirement that legal assistance be provided by the government, the forfeiture process can be devoid of any fairness.  Fortunately, there are a few resources out there for some victims which allows them to obtain free counsel. 

For those who do not qualify and are therefore forced to represent themselves, we have assembled this list of self-help resources for "pro se" or "pro per" victims.  Note:  FEAR's Asset Forfeiture Defense Manual was specifically designed for victims forced to represent themselves, as well as forfeiture lawyers.  You can buy it online at this website.  Having the manual will not make you as effective as a trained, experienced forfeiture lawyer, but hey, it only costs $119 plus tax and shipping.  Pro se victims should also join FEAR ($35 per year) so they can get access to our online Brief Bank.   Also, please take advantage of the huge amount of free self-help materials available on this website, including the self-help page and the materials in the FEAR website Law Library.

Federal forfeiture law now allows court-appointed counsel in some federal forfeiture cases

Under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, the court can appoint counsel for indigent forfeiture victims in two situations:

(1) If the forfeiture victim has a court appointed attorney in a pending federal criminal case, the judge may authorize that lawyer to also represent the victim in the parallel forfeiture case.  18 U.S.C. § 983(b)(1)(A).  The requirements are:

(2) If the property subject to forfeiture is the claimant's primary residence, the judge is required to ensure that the claimant is represented by an attorney for Legal Services Corporation. 18 U.S.C. § 983(b)(2)(A).  The requirements are:

Below you will find a list of pro bono programs for indigent people, and self-help resources for "pro se" or "pro per" litigants (both terms mean people representing themselves).  This was obtained by scanning the internet for anything that looked like it might be useful. Please use it with caution as the list contains a wide range of articles varying in legitimacy and region of application.   We don't have the resources to check out these programs or websites, so use them at your own risk.
If you know of any other pro bono or sliding scale programs that might represent indigent forfeiture victims, please email Brenda.