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Opinion: Court Should Favor Vehicle Owners In Asset Forfeiture Case

Stephanie Wilson, a nursing student in Taylor, Mich., argued in an opinion piece for USA Today that the Supreme Court should rule in favor of Alabama vehicle owners in Culley v. Marshall, a case about civil-asset forfeiture. Wilson says that her car was seized in Wayne County, Mich., and police did not arrest her, accuse her of wrongdoing or issue a citation. It took more than two years of delay with no chance of seeing a judge to get her car back. The Wayne County Attorney’s Office gave her one option to reclaim her vehicle: Settle out of court and pay $1,800 plus towing and storage fees.

This is not an uncommon practice. Just in Wayne County during a recent two-year span, law enforcement agencies seized more than 2,600 vehicles and ransomed them back to their owners for more than $1.2 million. Similar "moneymaking schemes" occur nationwide, she alleges. Law enforcement agencies grab cash, cars and other valuables and then stall to weaken resistance. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to re-examine the issue through the case scheduled for oral arguments next Monday.


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