The Luis case involves a challenge to the government’s pretrial seizure of untainted assets of a criminal defendant that were needed by that defendant to retain her counsel of choice. Untainted assets are those which are completely unrelated to the crime charged.
CLDEF’s first amicus brief urged the Supreme Court to take the case, arguing that asset forfeiture laws permit the seizure of only those assets that are related to the crime alleged, over which the government alleges a superior property interest. It was never designed to permit the government to seize unrelated and untainted assets, over which the government has no property interest at all. Additionally, CLDEF’s brief argued that Americans now must live in fear that they will be unable to use their assets to exercise their right to hire the counsel of their choice to defend themselves when accused of a crime.
CLDEF filed one of only two amicus briefs urging the Court to take the case, which it did when the Supreme Court granted certiorari on June 8, 2015.
On August 25, 2015, CLDEF submitted an amicus curiae brief on the merits, arguing that the court below based its decision on three previous Supreme Court decisions which did not address the issue in this case. CLDEF’s brief also explained how the Founders disfavored asset forfeiture laws that now oppressively operate against the people of the United States. This system works to deprive defendants of their right to counsel of their choice, in violation of the Sixth Amendment. The case is now pending on the merits before the Supreme Court.