RECENT DEVELOPMENT: FIFTH AMENDMENT -- SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE OF PROPERTY -- FEDERAL COURT UPHOLDS PRE-NOTICE SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE OF REAL PROPERTY USED FOR NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING. -- United States v. 141st Street Corp., 911 F.2d 870 (2d Cir.), petition for cert. filed, 59 U.S.L.W. 2157 (U.S. Nov. 15, 1990) (No. 90-781). Skip over navigation
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Copyright 1991 The Harvard Law Review Association.

Harvard Law Review

RECENT DEVELOPMENT: FIFTH AMENDMENT -- SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE OF PROPERTY -- FEDERAL COURT UPHOLDS PRE-NOTICE SEIZURE AND FORFEITURE OF REAL PROPERTY USED FOR NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING. -- United States v. 141st Street Corp., 911 F.2d 870 (2d Cir.), petition for cert. filed, 59 U.S.L.W. 2157 (U.S. Nov. 15, 1990) (No. 90-781).

MARCH, 1991

104 Harv. L. Rev. 1139

Excerpt

"Burden of proof on the defendant. Summary judgment based on inadmissible hearsay. Loss of a house for making a telephone call. Attorneys' fees vanishing as if by magic. Welcome to the wonderful world of [drug-related] forfeitures, which, especially to the uninitiated, resembles a house of horrors." 1

Under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, 2 the federal government may seize and compel forfeiture of all real property used or intended to be used to facilitate narcotics violations. 3 Although the statute includes safeguards to prevent erroneous property deprivation, 4 several federal courts have established additional protections to counteract the broadening ambit of forfeiture laws. 5 Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently interpreted the relevant due process guarantees narrowly, thus enhancing the ability of governmental officials to seize property subject to civil forfeiture. In United States v. 141st Street Corp., 6 the court held that for seizures pursuant to the Act, the due process clause does not require the federal government to provide notice and a hearing prior to seizure of an apartment building if exigent circumstances exist and a neutral and detached magistrate issues the seizure warrant. 7

Because courts previously found exigent circumstances to justify pre-notice seizure only when the subject property was easy to destroy or remove from the jurisdiction, 8 the Second Circuit's validation of pre-notice seizure of immovable property broadly redefines the concept of "exigent circumstances." The decision shifts the focus of the exigency inquiry ...
 
 
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