- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
- Date Filed: 09-23-2022
- Case #: Nos. 19-10302, 21-10036
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Mckeown, Circuit Judge, for the Court, joined by Fletcher & Bybee, Circuit Judges.
- Full Text Opinion
Wright was arrested and convicted of multiple charges relating to his history of robbing Las Vegas businesses at gunpoint. Police seized $63,513 from Wright, and the district court denied his motions for return of the money under Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(g). Wright appealed the judgments. If property is no longer needed as evidence, the government must prove a “legitimate reason” to retain that property by: establishing that the property is contraband; establishing that the project is subject to forfeiture; or rebutting the presumption that the defendant is entitled to lawful possession of the property. United States v. Gladding, 775 F.3d 1149, 1152 (9th Cir. 2014); United States v. Van Cauwenberghe 827 F.2d 424, 433-34 (9th Cir. 1987). The Court reasoned that, because the government adequately demonstrated the money seized was stolen, and the record supported that conclusion, it successfully rebutted the presumption that Wright was entitled to lawful possession. However, because the government failed to utilize the forfeiture scheme Congress put in place for this purpose, it failed to establish ownership of the money. Affirmed.