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Carmen Ortiz, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, is reportedly weighing an appeal of U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein’s dismissal of the forfeiture action against the property housing the Motel Caswell:

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said her office is weighing an appeal against a Tewksbury motel owner who criticized her for prosecutorial bullying last week after he won his battle in the feds’ three-year bid to seize his business, citing drug busts on the property.

“This case was strictly a law-enforcement effort to crack down on what was seen as a pattern of using the motel to further the commission of drug crimes for nearly three decades,” Ortiz said in a statement. “We are weighing our options with respect to appeal.”

Russ Caswell, owner of Motel Caswell, told the Herald he thought the case was “bullying by the government” and felt vindicated when a judge sided with him after his court victory last week.

“It’s like they’ve got nothing better to do,” Caswell said after he heard prosecutors are considering an appeal. “I don’t think they have much chance of anything, but I guess they can appeal if they want. This thing’s been going on for three years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they might want to drag it out longer.” Erin Smith, Ortiz to motel owner: We’re not done yet, Boston Herald, 27 Jan. 2013.

To acquire the property, at this point, Ortiz’s office would need to overcome U.S. Magistrate Dein’s findings that the Caswells met their burden of proof as innocent owners and that prosecutors failed to show that the property is subject to forfeiture.
Update: Professor Ilya Somin comments on reports that U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz is considering an appeal of the Caswell case…. As Professor Somin notes, an appeal, if the Government were to lose again, could benignly develop the law… To be sure, the Caswells have already suffered too much. Ortiz’s office should have never prosecuted the property in the first instance. And, the Caswells should not have to suffer more of Ortiz’s wanton caprice. Nonetheless, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, however they might rule, would be afforded an opportunity to create binding precedent for lower courts in the circuit (and more generally to further inform thinking about what subject to forfeiture means in the context of 18 U.S.C. 983(c) and places of public accommodation).

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