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Letter to the Editor: Civil asset forfeiture

It has been widely misreported — and this includes Minnesota Lawyer — that the United States Supreme Court dealt a serious blow to civil asset forfeiture in Timbs v. Indiana.

Minnesota Lawyer wrote that “[i]n her 9-0 majority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that Indiana’s seizure of a man’s $42,000 Land Rover was grossly disproportionate to his crime — the sale of about $300 worth of drugs.”

But that is not what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote. That is what an Indiana district court judge wrote. Timbs simply held that the Excessive Fines clause applies to the states and remanded for further proceedings.  And this should have no impact in Minnesota because Minnesota has already interpreted state law consistently with federal law.  The excitement surrounding Timbs, and speculation that it spells the end of civil asset forfeiture, is based upon a holding that does not exist.


Todd Zettler

Assistant Scott County Attorney

Scott County Attorney’s Office

200 Fourth Avenue West

Shakopee, MN  55379


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