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NCJ Number: 149576 Find in a Library
Title: Reforming Civil Forfeiture Law: The Case for an Automatic Stay Provision
Journal: St. Johns Law Review  Volume:67  Issue:4  Dated:(Fall 1993)  Pages:705-719
Author(s): G R Brown
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 15
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Given the volume of civil forfeiture litigation and the ephemeral nature of applicable law, the institution of an automatic stay provision would reduce the burden on courts while protecting the rights of the government and claimants.
Abstract: Any comprehensive reform of Federal civil litigation must address civil forfeiture actions, which constitutes one of the fastest growing segments of Federal court dockets. This article proposes an automatic stay of such actions pending the resolution of related or parallel criminal proceedings. An automatic stay would facilitate judicial economy by eliminating the burdensome motion practice associated with obtaining a stay, which often occurs in civil forfeiture actions. It would also reduce the judicial resources required to resolve the merits of the forfeiture cases. In addition, an automatic stay of civil forfeiture proceedings furthers the government's interest in ensuring the imposition of appropriate criminal sanctions. Under the current framework, a stay is generally available only on the government's motion. Motions by claimants to stay civil forfeiture actions have generally been denied. In responding to civil discovery, claimants are free to invoke the Fifth Amendment. The problem confronting claimants, however, is that invocation of the Fifth Amendment results in a negative inference in the civil forfeiture proceeding, and potentially, forfeiture of their property. Accordingly, a growing number of courts have recognized that the protection of claimants' Fifth Amendment rights warrants a stay of civil forfeiture proceedings. A discussion of the mechanics of an automatic stay addresses enactment of the provision, procedure, possession of the defendant's property during the stay, and duration of a stay. 78 footnotes
Main Term(s): Court procedures
Index Term(s): Civil proceedings; Forfeiture; Forfeiture law
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