|Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay|
Worse yet, I heard from a defense attorney who practices in Hamilton County that during the person's processing after a seizure in that county (and before charges are filed if they are filed), law enforcement officials will try to get the person to sign a waiver giving law enforcement everything that was seized. It is very questionable what happens to the seizures that result from these waivers or whether a civil forfeiture action is ever filed since they have been "settled." At the conclusion of the case when a determination is being made of which government agencies receive the civil forfeiture money, most judges are just simply signing off on the prosecutor's paperwork that allows law enforcement to keep 100% of the money. The civil forfeiture defendant does not have standing to challenge that division of the money and thus there is no one to oppose the prosecutor at that point.
Jim Irsay was found with $29,000 in cash on him during his arrest. Did Hamilton County law enforcement ask him to sign a waiver letting them have the money as they would have with a private citizen? Apparently not. As of today, no civil forfeiture action has been filed by the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office against Irsay. You can bet that if Irsay were an ordinary citizen, the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office would have immediately filed a civil forfeiture action against him.
Once again, the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office demonstrates there are two types of justice in that county, one that applies to people who have money and political power and the one ordinary citizens must face.
The Indiana Law Blog today put up a link to an excellent New Yorker article on civil forfeiture.