Friday, May 22, 2009

The Judicial Lynching – Part II – The Seizure of Jeane's Assets

The second legal blow to Jeane’s psyche arose from the seizing of all her assets. The second move the government made was to convince a judge that all of Jeane’s assets – her houses and bank accounts – were the proceeds of her prostitution business and thus forfeitable to the government. Upon this representation, the judge ordered her assets seized and Jeane instantly became indigent. While this is not the forum to discuss the legality of such behavior by the government, the grotesque abuse of this power by the government finally caused Congress to enact the “Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000” (“CAFRA”). It was to CAFRA that Jeane looked for relief from this overreaching by the government which left her penniless and unable to afford private legal counsel . . .

Among CAFRA’s provision is the requirement found at 18 U.S.C. §983(f) “Release Of Seized Property”, where Congress imposed upon the court a duty – within 30 days of a motion to return seized property – to hold a hearing to determine if Jeane’s seized property should be “immediately” returned to her. At the hearing, the government has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture. That means that Jeane would get to cross examine her accusers and present evidence that her escort operation was not being run in an illegal fashion. It also meant, as I was at the helm of her legal ship at that time, that I could – and would – call several high profile clients of the service as witnesses to the legal nature of the service.  Neither the government nor the court wanted that as the result would be a circus.

Thus, on November 24, 2006, I filed the motion to return Jeane’s property with the court thereby mandating the court hold a hearing and decide by December 24, 2006, if Jeane’s property would be returned to her. December 24, 2006, came and went and the court did not rule. Why pay attention to Congress when you can ignore their directives with impunity. On January 8, 2007, the court denied as moot my motion to return Jeane’s property. That was inane – how was the motion moot when the government still had all Jeane’s property? I again filed a motion to get the court to rule as Congress required but the court just ignored it.

Seeking relief, I took an appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals which likewise denied the appeal after waiting a year to rule upon the appeal.

As such, Jeane was forced to defend herself as a pauper, relying on the appointment of attorneys and court approved funding for investigators. So much for the law – it was clear the judiciary believed they could ignore Congress because there was no sanction for such behavior. Judicial tyranny had arrived and Jeane was scarred once again by the promise of the law’s protection falling so far from its reality.

© 2009 Montgomery Blair Sibley


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