Great news from the Institute for Justice regarding its major legal victory yesterday in a very important civil forfeiture case that would never have been litigated except for America’s shameful War on Drugs, featured previously here on CD:
Arlington, Va.—In a major triumph for property rights, a federal court in Massachusetts dismissed a civil forfeiture action against the Motel Caswell, a family-run motel in Tewksbury, handing a complete victory to owners Russell and Patricia Caswell. In one of the most contentious civil forfeiture fights in the nation, Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts concluded, based on a week-long bench trial in November 2012, that the motel was not subject to forfeiture under federal law and that its owners were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.
“This is a complete victory for the Caswell family and for the protection of private property rights,” said Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. “The Caswells will keep their motel, and private property rights are preserved.”
The government had sought to take the Motel Caswell from the Caswell family under the theory that the motel allegedly facilitated drug crimes. But the court found that Mr. Caswell “did not know the guests involved in the drug crimes, did not know of their anticipated criminal behavior at the time they registered as guests, and did not know of the drug crimes while they were occurring.”
Here’s a report from the Boston newspaper.
HT: Bill Greenway
Kudos to the Institute for Justice for protecting the property rights of the Caswell family, and standing up to the despicable government overreach and abuse of power in a civil forfeiture action against innocent property owners.