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Monday, March 13, 2017

Ind. Law - Even more on "Could Indiana pass forfeiture reform this year?"

Updating this March 7th ILB post (which mentions the Supreme Court oral argument coming this Thursday in State of Indiana v. Tyson Timbs and a 2012 Land Rover LR2, federal Judge Magnus-Stinson (SD Ind.) issued a ruling of interest March 7th denying Marion County's motion to dismiss in a lawsuit challenging Indiana's forfeiture statute. Some quotes from the 6-page Order in Leroy Washington v. Marion County Prosecutor:

Plaintiff Leroy Washington’s car was seized and held for forfeiture following his arrest, pursuant to Ind.Code 34-24-1-2(a)(1). Mr. Washington commenced this action against Defendants the Marion County Prosecutor (the “Prosecutor”), the Mayor of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis/Marion County (the “Mayor”), and the Chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (the “Chief”) in their official capacities, challenging the forfeiture statute (and the Defendants’ enforcement of it) as unconstitutional. Presently pending before the Court is the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Mr. Washington’s Complaint. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the Defendants’ Motion. * * *

On November 2, 2016, Mr. Washington filed a Complaint in this Court, on behalf of himself and other putative class members. Mr. Washington alleges that Ind.Code 34-24-1-2(a)(1) violates the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution, and is therefore illegal, because “it allows the executive branch to seize and hold the vehicle of an owner for several months without affording the owner the right to a postseizure hearing to challenge the seizure.” * * *

The Defendants argue that because Mr. Washington’s vehicle is being released to him, “no relief can be granted to [Mr.] Washington under the claims asserted in this lawsuit.” They contend that “this matter is now moot and must be dismissed.” Mr. Washington responds that the “inherently transitory” doctrine and the “capable of repetition” doctrine both apply in this case, and that those doctrines make clear that his claims have not been mooted by the Defendants’ actions. * * *

The Court therefore concludes that Mr. Washington’s claim has not been mooted, and a class certification will “relate back” to the filing of the complaint.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 13, 2017 10:46 AM
Posted to Ind Fed D.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Law