Kaley was an asset forfeiture case challenging the current federal process whereby seizure of defendant’s assets can occur before trial, without any meaningful judicial review of the government’s claims.
CLDEF argued in its brief that taking away a person’s means by which he can hire a lawyer and defend himself only serves to magnify the already enormous advantage the government has in prosecuting a defendant, tilting the balance further in favor of the government.
CLDEF explained that the grand jury system can no longer be counted on to protect the innocent, since indictments are routinely issued in nearly every case where a prosecution wants an indictment.
Finally, our amicus curiae brief argued that there is an immoral conflict of interest in the current system whereby the law enforcement agencies and departments of government which were involved in the arrest or seizure are allowed to get a “cut of the loot.”
The Supreme Court expressed no concern about the rights of defendants, and decided that the only issue which a pretrial hearing needs to address is whether the seized assets are traceable to the alleged crime.