Forfeiture Endangers American Rights

F.E.A.R. On-Line Library

U.S. Supreme Court Cases

Last update April 25, 2004 (by Brenda Grantland)

Alexander v. United States, 509 U.S. 544 (1993), (held: Eighth Amendment Excessive Fines Clause applies to criminal forfeitures)

Austin v. United States, 509 U.S. 602 (1993), (held: civil forfeiture is punishment for purposes of the Eighth Amendment Excessive Fines Clause.)

Bennis v. Michigan,  516 U.S. 442 (1996) (held: Constitution does not imply an innocent owner defense where statute lacks one.  Listen to the Supreme Court oral argument in Real Audio.

Calero-Toledo v. Pearson Yacht Leasing Co., 416 U.S. 663 (1974) (seemed to imply that the Constitution protected innocent owners if they did all they reasonably could have done to prevent their property from being used illegally; this concept was shot down in Bennis v. Michigan.)

Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered, v. United States, 491 U.S. 617 (1989) (held: Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not prevent forfeiture of attorney's fees under civil forfeiture statute.)

Degen v. U.S., 517 U.S. 820 (1996) (held: fugitive disentitlement doctrine cannot be used to deny property owners right to be heard in civil forfeiture case, even if they are fugitives from justice in pending criminal case.)  Note:  CAFRA revived the fugitive disentitlement doctrine.

Florida v. White, 526 U.S. 559 (1999)  (upheld the warrantless seizure of a car for forfeiture several months after the offense occurred.)

J.W. Goldsmith Jr. Grant Co. v. United States, 254 U.S. 505 (1921) (held: since it is the thing that is on trial in a forfeiture case, the owner's innocence is irrelevant.)

Libretti v. U.S., 516 U.S. 29 (1995) (held: defendant's guilty plea, in which he agreed to forfeit everything he owned, whether tainted or not, was valid, even though he was not instructed of the right to a jury trial and special verdict of forfeiture, and even though the court did not make a finding of fact that each item of property was forfeitable.) 

Motlow v. State of Missouri Ex. Rel. Koeln, 295 U.S. 97 (1935) (relation back doctrine did not wipe out state tax liens after federal forfeiture case was settled.)

Murdock Acceptance Corp. v. United States, 350 U.S. 488 (1956) (held finance company was entitled to judicial remission under statutory innocent owner defense of old liquor law 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3617)

One Lot Emerald Cut Stones v. United States, 409 U.S. 232 (1972) (civil forfeiture of imported merchandise for customs violation after acquittal of underlying criminal charge does not violate double jeopardy.)

Plymouth Sedan v. Pennsylvania, 380 U.S. 693 (1965) (Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule applies to forfeiture cases.)

Republic National Bank v. United States, 113 S.Ct. 554, 121 L.Ed.2d 474 (1992), (held: the government's sale of the seized property and depositing the proceeds into the U.S. Treasury does not deprive the court of jurisdiction to hear the appeal of the lienholder)

Robinson v. Hanrahan, 409 U.S. 38 (1972) (notice of forfeiture proceedings must be sent to incarcerated forfeiture claimants in care of their place of confinement; published notice is not sufficient for due process.)

United States v. $8,850, 461 U.S. 555 (1983) (held: due process requires a speedy trial in civil forfeiture cases.)

United States v. 89 Firearms, 465 U.S. 354 (1984) (double jeopardy does not apply to civil penalties.)

United States v. 92 Buena Vista Avenue, Rumson, N.J., 507 U.S. 111 (1993), (held: relation back doctrine does not cut off rights of third parties who acquire their interest in the property after the illegal act)

United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 321 (1998), (held: Eighth Amendment Excessive Fines clause prohibits "grossly disproportionate" forfeitures and described how to apply the standards.)

United States v. James Daniel Good Real Property, 510 U.S. 43 (1993), (held: Due Process requires notice and hearing before real estate may be seized under forfeiture statutes

United States v. Lane Motor Co., 344 U.S. 630 (1953) (held: vehicle used solely for commuting to illegal liquor still was not forfeitable as facilitating property.)

United States v. Monsanto, 491 U.S. 600 (1989) (held: Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not prevent criminal forfeiture of assets used to retain an attorney under 21 U.S.C. Sec. 853.)

United States v. Ursery , 518 U.S. 267 (1996) (held: civil forfeiture is not punishment for purposes of the double jeopardy clause.) Hear the announcement of the opinion of the Supreme Court in Real Audio