Friday, September 12, 2014

After Cops Seized and Kept Cash, Washington, D.C. Settles Almost Million-Dollar Forfeiture Class Action



Washington, D.C. paid $855,000 to settle a class action filed by property owners who argued that the city’s policy of seizing and taking their cash violated their constitutional rights. Using a little-known legal procedure known as civil forfeiture, District police seized small amounts of cash— with many seizures around $100—from approximately 9,000 people. In a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, $500,000 was disbursed to pay claims to 1,377 claimants, while nearly $300,000 was allocated for attorney’s fees and expenses. Further abuses of civil forfeiture could be curbed by reforms proposed by both the city council and Congress.

In civil forfeiture cases, owners do not have to be convicted of a crime to have their property taken by the government. Anthony Hardy, a lead plaintiff in the class action, was stopped by police in December 2006, who then allegedly found narcotics in the trunk of his car. Police arrested Hardy, charged him with possession and seized $127. Three months later, his case was dismissed. But the District of Columbia continued to hold on to his cash. Additionally, the suit alleged that Hardy was never notified about the forfeiture or granted an opportunity to contest it.

- See more at: http://xrepublic.tv/node/10390#sthash.HjEfnBZx.dpuf