Ruling Should Reduce Civil Asset Forfeitures « CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Jessica Anthony, an attorney who argued before the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court on behalf of Elizabeth Young, whose house was seized by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office after her son was charged with selling marijuana, talked with Dom Giordano on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT about a ruling that makes it more difficult for authorities to take people’s homes through civil asset forfeiture, saying it is a key step in reversing the increasing amount of such property seizures.

Anthony believes the impact of confiscating a property will now play a much larger role in how these cases will be viewed.

“What the court is saying is that when you have a civil forfeiture case and it involves a piece of property, which oftentimes is an individual’s home and the only property that they own, you really have to do a rigorous analysis in order for the government to take that property. There are a number of factors that need to be considered, including what offenses were involved? What involvement did the property owner have in criminal activity?”

She added that, in this particular case, the property only became a blight on the community after Young was forced to leave her home.

“There was an outpouring of support from Elizabeth’s neighbors and the members of her community. They said that she is a great part of the neighborhood, that there has never been any problems with the house. Her neighbors were, and continue to be, very supportive of her. I think a lot of other property owners are in the same situation, what are you really doing and what really is being accomplished by taking this woman’s house? To be frank, the property has been vacant since the trial a number of years ago because Mrs. Young has not been allowed back in the house, while all of this in pending, and, in that time, is really when the neighborhood has complained about the property being vacant and being run down.”

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