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Legislative Briefing on the Need to Reform Federal Civil Forfeiture

On July 15, 2013, in federal, by Scott Alexander Meiner

Renowned forfeiture defense attorney David B. Smith and Scott Bullock, Senior Attorney for the Institute for Justice, will appear on Tuesday July 16th, at 3:30 p.m., with Russ Caswell, owner of the Motel Caswell, in Room 2226 of the Sam Rayburn House Office Building, Washington D.C. for a legislative briefing on the need to reform federal civil forfeiture laws:

Legislative Briefing on the Need to Reform Federal Civil Forfeiture

DATE & TIME: Tues., July 16, 3:30 – 4:30pm

PLACE: Rayburn House Office Building
Room 2226
Washington, D.C.

PARTICIPANTS: Scott Bullock, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice
David Smith, Smith & Zimmerman, PLLC, and national expert on civil forfeiture
Russ Caswell, Institute for Justice client and victim of civil forfeiture


In 2012 alone, assets deposited into the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund, the federal government’s largest forfeiture fund, exceeded $4 billion. That is a 960% increase just since 2001.

On Tuesday, July 16, at 3:30pm, the Institute for Justice—a national public interest law firm that fights civil forfeiture abuse nationwide—will hold a legislative briefing on the need for federal civil forfeiture reform to curb widespread abuses of power that have resulted in billions being seized by law enforcement and deposited directly into their own coffers.

Imagine you own a million-dollar piece of property free and clear, but then law enforcement agents announce that they are going to take it from you, not compensate you one dime, and then use the money they get from selling your business and land to pad their budgets—all of this even though you have never so much as been accused of a crime, let alone convicted of one.

That was the nightmare Russ Caswell and his family faced in Tewksbury, Mass., where the federal government
tried to take the family-operated motel they have owned for two generations through civil forfeiture. This is the upside-down world of civil forfeiture, and Russ’s case demonstrates the need to reform federal law to discourage this abuse of power.

Under civil forfeiture, law enforcement agencies can seize and keep property suspected of involvement in criminal activity. Unlike criminal asset forfeiture, with civil forfeiture, a property owner need not be found guilty of a crime—or even charged—to permanently lose her cash, car, home or other property.

Institute for Justice senior attorney Scott Bullock, who represented Russ Caswell, will be joined by Russ and David Smith, a national expert on civil forfeiture.

Please join us to learn about how federal civil forfeiture law encourages “policing for profit” at the expense of the fair administration of justice, and how federal law creates incentives for states to circumvent strong state laws in favor of more lucrative federal law, in violation of federalism principles.

All staff and media are welcome. Refreshments will be served.
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Institute for Justice | www.IJ.org |

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