Matthews v. US, Action No. 2:93cr66.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtMORGAN
Citation917 F. Supp. 1090
PartiesClinton S. MATTHEWS, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES of America, Defendant.
Decision Date13 February 1996
Docket NumberAction No. 2:93cr66.

917 F. Supp. 1090

Clinton S. MATTHEWS, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Defendant.

Action No. 2:93cr66.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division.

February 13, 1996.


917 F. Supp. 1091
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917 F. Supp. 1092
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Clinton S. Matthew, Lewisburg, PA, pro se

Kent P. Porter, Assistant United States Attorney, Norfolk, VA, for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

MORGAN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Clinton S. Matthews' (a/k/a Clinton S. Matthew) ("Matthews") Motion for Return of Property filed October 26, 1995 pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(e).1 Matthews alleges that his property was seized without a warrant and in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. He demands the return of his property.2 (Affirmation in Support of Motion for Return of Property ("Affirmation").) On November 16, 1995, the United States filed its response to Defendant's motion as well as the declaration of William J. Snider, Forfeiture Counsel of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), and exhibits A, B1, B2, C1, and C2.3

Upon review of the pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits, the Court DENIES petitioner's Motion for Return of Property for the reasons hereinafter outlined.4

I. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Petitioner Matthews was one of a number who were included in April of 1993 in a multicount indictment which charged him with the distribution of narcotics and a conspiracy to distribute the same. 21 U.S.C. § 846 (1984 & Supp.1995); 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (1984 & Supp.1995). Matthews was convicted by a jury on some of the charged offenses and was consequently sentenced to life in prison by this Court. Matthews' current petition arises out of his contacts with federal officers during the pendency of their investigation and his various arrests.

Matthews claims in his petition that assorted items were seized and forfeited by federal officers. Chronologically, the first seizure is said to have occurred on April 5, 1991 and to have been effected by Federal Immigration and City of Portsmouth officers. (Affirm. ¶¶ 2-5.) The alleged seizure included a blue 1987 Nissan 240SX belonging to his girlfriend, $4759.00 in United States currency hidden in a compartment of the car, and a Shearling coat which was in the trunk of the car and which purportedly contained $750.00 in United States currency in one of its pockets. Notably, while Matthews asserts that he has a legal right to the return of these items, he does not claim legal ownership in any of them; he merely claims that he was "sitting in a Blue Nissan Automobile ... when he was taken into custody" — the same automobile from which these other items purportedly were confiscated — and that he had placed the coat in the trunk. (Affirm. ¶¶ 8, 20.)5 In accordance with 19 U.S.C. § 1607, Matthews was given proper notice of

917 F. Supp. 1096
the seizures of some of the property6 and of the fact that the DEA was instituting forfeiture proceedings on these items.7 See also 21 C.F.R. § 1316.75 (1992)

The second alleged seizure occurred on April 24, 1993 during his arrest on the indictment for which he is now in prison. A search was conducted at his most current residence in Norfolk, Virginia and two sums of money were seized: $4000.00 in United States currency discovered in an air conditioning unit and $1073.00 in United States currency confiscated from Matthews' person. (U.S. Resp. at 2.) Unlike the items seized in 1991, Matthews does in fact claim an ownership interest in these two sums seized in 1993. Adhering to 19 U.S.C. § 1607, the DEA gave Matthews proper notice of its seizure and of its intent to forfeit this property.8 See also 21 C.F.R. § 1316.75.

Matthews never responded to these notices and publications; thus, the Drug Enforcement Administration "adopted" the $4759.00 seized in 1991 and the $5073.00 seized in 1993 for the institution of federal forfeiture proceedings, 21 U.S.C. § 881 (1988 & Supp.III 1991), 19 U.S.C. § 1609 (1988 & Supp.III 1991), and 21 C.F.R. § 1316.77, (Decl. of William J. Snider ("Decl.") ¶ 6.), and declared these sums forfeited by "summary" or administrative forfeiture pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1609 on September 5, 1991, (Ex. B1, B2), and August 13, 1993, (Ex. C1, C2),9 respectively. See 19 U.S.C. § 1607(a) (1988 & Supp.III 1991); 21 U.S.C. § 881(d); 21 C.F.R. § 1316.75. However, no record exists of any seizure or forfeiture of the remaining items claimed, specifically, the 1987 Nissan automobile, the Shearling coat, or the $750.00 allegedly in the coat pocket. (Ex. A; Decl. ¶ 6.)

II. ANALYSIS

The United States submits three cogent grounds for its opposition to Matthews' Motion for Return of Property; however, before dealing with these grounds, the Court must first address the complex issue of jurisdiction over Rule 41(e) motions.

A. JURISDICTION

Some question exists among the Circuits as to whether an agency's institution of administrative forfeiture over articles of property preempts a district court's jurisdiction to hear a putative owner's Rule 41(e) claim.

917 F. Supp. 1097
See Linarez v. United States Department of Justice, 2 F.3d 208, 211-13 (7th Cir.1993) reh. den. 1993 U.S.App. LEXIS 22563 (7th Cir.); United States v. Price, 914 F.2d 1507, 1510 (D.C.Cir.1990); In re Seizure Warrant, 830 F.2d 372, 374 (D.C.Cir.1987), vacated sub nom. Onwuasoanya v. United States, 488 U.S. 920, 109 S.Ct. 299, 102 L.Ed.2d 319 (1988); United States v. Castro, 883 F.2d 1018, 1019-20 (11th Cir.1989); Cheung v. United States, 1993 WL 642934 at * 1, * 3 (D.Md.1993). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has not addressed this issue to date

i. Application of Rule 54(b)(5)

The weight of authority tends to support the proposition that the jurisdiction of district courts over Rule 41(e) petitions for return of property is divested where an agency initiates administrative forfeiture proceedings pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1607, 21 U.S.C. § 881. The basis for this conclusion largely rests in a reading of both Rules 41(e) and 54(b)(5).

Rule 41(e) speaks only of a "person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure or by the deprivation of property"10 having access to the district court for the district in which the property was seized. Fed. R.Crim.P. 41(e). It makes no distinction between criminal and civil forfeitures, although it does refer specifically to motions filed "after an indictment or information is filed" and dictates that a motion in that category may be "treated also as a motion to suppress under Rule 12." Fed.R.Crim.P. 41(e). The Rule is "designed to accomplish two objectives: the return of the property to its owner and, where criminal proceedings have been initiated, the suppression of illegally seized property as evidence." Mora v. United States, 955 F.2d 156, 158 (2d Cir.1992).

Rule 54(b)(5) addresses the applications of all of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and therefore modifies Rule 41(e). The interpretation of Rule 54(b)(5)'s application to Rule 41(e) gives rise to the controversy over this Court's jurisdiction in the case.

Rule 54(b)(5) applies to "other proceedings" and states, in relevant part, that "these rules are not applicable to ... civil forfeiture of property for violation of a statute of the United States...." Fed. R.Crim.P. 54(b)(5). Furthermore, the advisory committee's notes on the rules specifically list 19 U.S.C. §§ 1602 et seq. — the statutes under which Matthews' property was seized — as statutes among those which govern the proceedings relating to forfeiture of property used in connection with a violation of a statute of the United States. Title 21 U.S.C. § 881, the statute under which Matthews' property was forfeited, is also exempted from the application of Rule 41(e) by Rule 54(d).11 In other words, 19 U.S.C. §§ 1602 et seq. are covered by Rule 54(b)(5) and are apparently exempted from the application of Rule 41(e). Fed.R.Crim.P. 54, advisory committee's note.

Other courts have applied these Rules and have derived a "well-settled" precept that "the proper method for recovery of property which has been subject to civil forfeiture is not the filing of a Rule 41(e) Motion, but filing a claim in the civil forfeiture action." U.S. v. Castro, 883 F.2d at 1019 (citing In re Seizure Warrant, 830 F.2d at 374; United

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States v. Macri, 185 F.Supp. 144 (D.Conn. 1960); United States v. Bell, 120 F.Supp. 670, 671-72 (D.D.C.1954)). These courts have taken Rule 54(b)(5) to apply not only to 19 U.S.C. §§ 1602 et seq. as noted in the advisory committee's notes, but also to 21 U.S.C. § 881 — the statute under which Matthews' property was forfeited. See e.g., In re Seizure Warrant, 830 F.2d at 374 ("Rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure does not authorize the return of property subject to forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. § 881."); see supra n. 11

Courts affirming such a reading of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure reason that a petitioner like Matthews is not actually deprived of due process by this denial of access to district courts. They note that petitioners may avail themselves of the administrative procedures established for this very purpose at the time of the proposed forfeiture. See 19 U.S.C. §§ 1603, 1607, 1608; 21 C.F.R. § 1316.76(b) (1992). Otherwise, petitioners must suffer the consequences of failing to challenge the seizure and forfeiture at the administrative level. See United States v. Price, 914 F.2d at 1511 (citing In re Harper, 835 F.2d 1273, 1274 (8th Cir.1988)).

The crux of this line of logic lies in the difference between civil and criminal forfeitures. "The legal fiction underlying civil forfeitures characterizes them as proceedings in rem against `offending inanimate objects' as defendants." United States v. $39,000 in Canadian Currency, 801...

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    ...litigate both the issue of title to the $11,000 and whether Clark had probable cause to seize the funds. Cf. Matthews v. United States, 917 F.Supp. 1090, 1106 (E.D.Va.1996) (claimant "had every opportunity to follow proper procedures prior to the forfeitures in order to halt the administrat......
  • S.E.C. v. Chester Holdings, Ltd., No. CIV. A. 97-1654 (MTB).
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    ...rates established quarterly by the Internal Revenue Service for money owed to the United States Treasury. See Hughes Capital Corp., 917 F.Supp. at 1090; SEC v. Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., 837 F.Supp. 587, 612 n. 8 (S.D.N.Y.1993), aff'd, 16 F.3d 520 (2d Cir.1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 107......
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20 cases
  • S.E.C. v. Ki.W. Brown and Co., No. 05-80367-CIV.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • December 19, 2007
    ...requiring the wrongdoer to pay prejudgment interest is consistent with the equitable purpose of the remedy of disgorgement. Hughes, 917 F.Supp. at 1090. Defendants' wrongdoing justifies awards of prejudgment interest in accord with the doctrines of fundamental fairness. See Tome, 638 F.Supp......
  • Vance v. U.S., No. 96-CV-73096-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Michigan)
    • April 3, 1997
    ...445-46 (2d Cir.1994); Linarez, 2 F.3d at 211-12; Hong v. United States, 920 F.Supp. 311, 315 (E.D.N.Y.1996); Matthews v. United States, 917 F.Supp. 1090, 1106 (E.D.Va.1996); United States v. Schiavo, 897 F.Supp. 644, 647 (D.Mass.1995); Seber v. Unger, 881 F.Supp. 323, 328 (N.D.Ill.1995); Og......
  • Bazuaye v. U.S., No. Civ.A. 93-1767 (JHG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 22, 1999
    ...litigate both the issue of title to the $11,000 and whether Clark had probable cause to seize the funds. Cf. Matthews v. United States, 917 F.Supp. 1090, 1106 (E.D.Va.1996) (claimant "had every opportunity to follow proper procedures prior to the forfeitures in order to halt the administrat......
  • S.E.C. v. Chester Holdings, Ltd., No. CIV. A. 97-1654 (MTB).
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    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • February 19, 1999
    ...rates established quarterly by the Internal Revenue Service for money owed to the United States Treasury. See Hughes Capital Corp., 917 F.Supp. at 1090; SEC v. Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., 837 F.Supp. 587, 612 n. 8 (S.D.N.Y.1993), aff'd, 16 F.3d 520 (2d Cir.1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 107......
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