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May 9, 2005

Sixth Circuit discusses forfeiture issues

I was pleased to see the Sixth Circuit unveiled this attractive new website today (as detailed in this post, form as well as substance is always important to law bloggers).  I was also intrigued to see that the circuit used an unpublished opinion in US v. Hall, No. 04-5047 (6th Cir. May 9, 2005) (available here), to address the application of Blakely and Booker to a criminal forfeiture award.

In Hall, a jury determined the amount of the defendant's ordered forfeiture, but Hall objected on appeal that this determination was on "the basis of the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard rather than the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard."  Emphasizing the Supreme Court's pre-Apprendi decision in Libretti and the circuit's post-Apprendi rejection of a similar claim, the Sixth Circuit turned back the defendant's claims.  And the concluding paragraph in Hall gave the ruling an interesting extra spin:

The absence of a statutory maximum or any sort of guidelines system indicates that forfeiture amounts to a form of indeterminate sentencing, which has never presented a Sixth Amendment problem.  Like the Seventh Circuit, we fail to see how Booker requires us to overturn our prior precedent in this area (Corrado) or allows us to turn our back on the Supreme Court's prior ruling in this area (Libretti).  Hall's effort to extend Apprendi and Booker to criminal forfeitures, accordingly, is rejected.

May 9, 2005 at 10:49 AM | Permalink


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I am a land owner whose land is being sued for being a "container" and "facilitator" of a crime: the manufacture of marijuana. I have paid for my "crime" in fines and fees and jail time and probation costs and loss of work. Yet, a further punitive action occurs in the forfeiture of my land whcich amounts to my life's work. How is it fair that the harmless, victimless act of growing marijuana for personal religious worship is twice punished, when a violent act as rape, or murder is punished but once?

Posted by: Dennis Pielack | Jan 31, 2006 8:19:18 PM

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