Luis v. US

Posted: October 14, 2015 by beguide in case summaries, Criminal Procedure, Forfeiture
Tags: ,

WHAT HAPPENED:  Luis was arrested on charges of Medicare fraud to the tune of millions and millions of dollars.  As part of her arrest, the FBI froze her accounts, which had a similar tune of millions and millions of dollars.
WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  Under the 5th and 6th Amendment, criminal defendants are entitled to an attorney as part of their Due Process and Fair Trial rights.  It should be noted; however, those rights only give you an attorney, and not the best attorney or even a good attorney.  Luis argues that the freezing of her accounts denied her rights under the 5th and 6th amendment because she could not afford her attorney of choice.
WHAT IS THE RULING:  This case is not yet decided.
WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE DECISION:  The ramifications apply more to the concept of asset/civil forfeiture, which is the process under which the government seizes assets usually at the time of your arrest that the State believes are the product of criminal activity.  This practice has recently come under fire due to the fact that getting those assets back is not subject to the same protections a criminal defendant is afforded, and the State can often obtain ownership of the assets because of the complicated procedures that come along with fighting forfeiture.  On the furthest edge of possibility, this case could expand the meanings of a “right to attorney” under the 5th and 6th amendment to include a “right to an attorney of your choice”, but the implications of that seem a bit too far-reaching even for the most liberal of justices.
YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR LUIS IF:  You can ignore the fact that this case involves a millionaire accused of fraud, and instead see that this also applies to people with less assets who are subject to the same forfeiture regulations.
YOU SHOULD ROOT FOR THE US IF:  You favor a basic reading of the Constitution that does not expand the existing rights we have to solve ancillary problems that likely require some form of attention from the Supreme Court.  In other words, you make up at least 4/9ths of the current supreme court.
  1. nazguide says:

    An interesting but possibly meaningless statistic: the value of seized assets surpassed that of stolen ones this year. Source:


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