United States v. James Daniel Good Real Property, 510 U.S. 43 (1993)

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OCTOBER TERM, 1993

Syllabus

UNITED STATES v. JAMES DANIEL GOOD REAL PROPERTY et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 92-1180. Argued October 6, 1993—Decided December 13, 1993

Four and one-half years after police found drugs and drug paraphernalia in claimant Good's home and he pleaded guilty to promoting a harmful drug in violation of Hawaii law, the United States filed an in rem action in the Federal District Court, seeking forfeiture of his house and land, under 21 U. S. C. 881(a)(7), on the ground that the property had been used to commit or facilitate the commission of a federal drug offense. Following an ex parte proceeding, a Magistrate Judge issued a warrant authorizing the property's seizure, and the Government seized the property without prior notice to Good or an adversary proceeding. In his claim for the property and answer to the Government's complaint, Good asserted that he was deprived of his property without due process of law and that the action was invalid because it had not been timely commenced. The District Court ordered that the property be forfeited, but the Court of Appeals reversed. It held that the seizure without prior notice and a hearing violated the Due Process Clause, and remanded the case for a determination whether the action, although filed within the 5-year period provided by 19 U. S. C. 1621, was untimely because the Government failed to follow the internal notification and reporting requirements of 1602-1604.

Held: 1. Absent exigent circumstances, the Due Process Clause requires the Government to afford notice and a meaningful opportunity to be heard before seizing real property subject to civil forfeiture. Pp. 48-62. (a) The seizure of Good's property implicates two " 'explicit textual source[s] of constitutional protection,' " the Fourth Amendment and the Fifth. Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U. S. 56, 70. While the Fourth Amendment places limits on the Government's power to seize property for purposes of forfeiture, it does not provide the sole measure of constitutional protection that must be afforded property owners in forfeiture proceedings. Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U. S. 103; Graham v. Connor, 490 U. S. 386, distinguished. Where the Government seizes property not to preserve evidence of criminal wrongdoing but to assert ownership and control over the property, its action must also comply with the Due

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