No More Unfair Asset Grabs
Washington, DC (April 11, 2000) -- Innocent citizens will no longer suffer at the hands of overzealous law enforcement officials who unfairly seize property and other assets, thanks to hard-fought reform legislation that the House and Senate have agreed to send to President Clinton to sign into law.
Passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 H.R. 1658 institutes overdue protections for citizens and reins in the government’s ability to arbitrarily seize private property, small businesses and other assets without due process of law.
“Americans have suffered too long as a result of unfair forfeiture of their homes, autos, and other personal belongings near and dear to them,” said William B. Moffitt, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
NACDL led a broad reform coalition urging changes in the law. According to Moffitt, “this measure re-establishes the bedrock notion in our democracy of innocence until proven guilty and makes it clear that the government has the burden of proving guilt.”
The legislation, passed by the Senate last month and by the House last June, has been a key priority for NACDL for more than a decade. The NACDL’s concern has been that the prior law permitted large- scale violation of constitutional rights and principles because the government could seize property on the basis of mere suspicion that property was connected to illegal activity.
The reforms create new procedures governing asset forfeiture. They include:
Requiring warrants or that the government proceed by recognized exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment to obtain property for forfeiture.
Shifting the burden of proof in asset forfeiture squarely to the government by requiring the government to show complicity by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
Expanding the time during which a person whose assets have been seized may file a claim.
Requiring seizing agencies to comply with strict notice and time requirements.
Allowing for release of seized property in certain hardship cases.
Allowing the appointment of counsel for indigent claimants in appropriate cases.
Requiring payment of reasonable attorneys fees in virtually all cases where the claimants prevail.
Allowing an action for damages against the government for harm to seized property while under the government’s control.
Moffitt noted that this reform legislation would not have been possible without the long-term commitment and concern of House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL), the author of “Forfeiting Our Property Rights” (Published by the Cato Institute), who has championed the need for asset forfeiture reform. Moffitt also commended the bi-partisan leadership of Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for shepherding the reform legislation through the Senate.
These meaningful reforms will go a long way to addressing the legitimate concerns which have been raised by a host of diverse groups, said Moffitt. NACDL was joined in its fight for asset forfeiture reform by the National Rife Association, the ACLU, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Realtors, the American Bankers Association, the American Bar Association and others.
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.