Opinion Breakdown – Luis v. U.S.

Posted: April 13, 2016 by beguide in case summaries, Uncategorized, Updates

Background – Defendant is charged with approx.45 million dollars of Medicare Fraud.  The State seizes assets owned by Defendant for purposes of restitution that equal that amount.  Defendant claims this seizure prevented her from hiring a lawyer of her choice, which in turn violates the Sixth Amendment

Luis Full Opinion

Breyer Majority – (5-3) – The seizure of assets here is problematic because there is no connection between the assets themselves and the crime.  The State is allowed to seize tainted assets, but untainted assets must balance the interest of the Defendant against the interests of the government.  In this case, the Court favors the interests of the Defendant.

Thomas concurrence – The Majority is generally right, but doesn’t need to balance the interests.  Untainted funds cannot be seized without connection to the crime.

Kennedy and Kagan dissents – Basically the legal equivalent of Will Ferrell’s “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills” speech from Zoolander.  While the Majority opinion makes sense in theory, there is no way to determine which funds are untainted and which funds are tainted, rationalizing that a person who stole $50 million and then won $50 million in the lottery could argue that he spent only the stolen money and the legit money was what was seized.


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