Tuesday, June 26, 2018

SCOTUS to hear 'excessive' civil forfeiture case

Supreme Court Will Decide If Civil Forfeiture Is Unconstitutional, Violates The Eighth Amendment - Nick Civilla, Forbes:

June 19, 2018 - "For the first time in over 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the opportunity to review the constitutionality of civil forfeiture laws, which allow the government to confiscate cash, cars, and even homes. On Monday, the court granted a cert petition from Tyson Timbs, who was forced to forfeit his $40,000 Land Rover in civil court to the State of Indiana, after he pled guilty to selling less than $200 worth of drugs.....

"Determined to keep his truck, Tyson argued that forfeiting the Land Rover would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on 'excessive fines.' A trial judge agreed, and rejected the forfeiture as 'grossly disproportional.' Under Indiana law, a felony conviction could trigger a maximum fine of $10,000 — less than a quarter of what Tyson’s Land Rover was worth. That decision was upheld by an appellate court.

"But in November, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed that decision, and instead ruled that the Constitution’s Excessive Fines Clause provided no protection to Hoosiers ... 'because the United States Supreme Court has not held that the Clause applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment'.... With this decision, the Indiana Supreme Court found itself at odds with 14 other state high courts and two federal appellate circuit courts, which had all ruled that the Excessive Fines Clause does, in fact, apply to the states....

"In January, Tyson and the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, filed a cert petition urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case and overturn the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling. Their efforts earned support from all across the political spectrum, with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Cato Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, all filing briefs in support of Tyson and IJ’s petition.

"With the petition now granted, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide once and for all whether the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated against the States under the Fourteenth Amendment."

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2018/06/19/supreme-court-will-decide-if-civil-forfeiture-is-unconstitutional-violates-the-eighth-amendment/#238403b71653
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