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Government United States Supreme Court White Collar Crime

Addressing Disproportionate Forfeitures: Refining the Bajakajian Analysis

Part Two of a Two-Part Article

In Part One, we discussed the public concern over unfairness in asset forfeiture and analyzed the Supreme Court case — United States v. Bajakajian — that looked to the Excessive Fines Clause to limit the government’s authority to forfeit property. In Part Two, we consider possible reforms that would allow defendants to challenge forfeitures as disproportionate under a fairer and more appropriate analysis.

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In Part One of our article (last month), we discussed the public concern over unfairness in asset forfeiture and analyzed the Supreme Court case — United States v. Bajakajian, 524 U.S. 321 (1998) — that looked to the Excessive Fines Clause to limit the government’s authority to forfeit property. We also explained that in the years since Bajakajian was decided, the decision has been invoked by the Circuit Courts of Appeal only rarely to block the government’s forfeiture claim. Why are there so few successful challenges to forfeiture under Bajakajian?

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