Luis v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: June 8, 2015
  • Case #: 14-419
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States v. Luis, 564 F. App’x 493 (11th Cir. 2014)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether it is unconstitutional under the 5th and 6th Amendments to restrain a criminal defendant from using assets unrelated to the criminal offense to hire an attorney.

Petitioner was indicted on health care fraud charges in U.S. District Court. Petitioner wished to obtain counsel to represent her in the action. Respondents filed a civil action to restrain Petitioner's assets, including those unrelated to the criminal charges, under the authority of 18 U.S.C. §1345. The district court restrained Petitioner’s “untainted” assets on the grounds that the statute authorizes the restraint of “substitute assets” equal to the amount actually traceable to the criminal offense, even though the “substitute assets” are not directly related to the offense. The 11th Circuit affirmed the motion to restrain the assets.

Petitioner argues that 21 U.S.C. §853, the criminal forfeiture statute does not authorize “substitute assets” to be restrained. Petitioner further argues that freezing untainted assets violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

The Court granted certiorari to resolve a circuit split on whether Defendants interest in obtaining counsel of choice outweighs the government’s interest in confiscating assets equal to that of the alleged fraud.

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