U.S. v. Wilson, No. 75-1713

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore BAZELON, Chief Judge, and ROBINSON and MacKINNON; MacKINNON
Citation540 F.2d 1100,176 U.S.app.D.C. 321
PartiesUNITED STATES of America v. Luther R. WILSON, Jr., Appellant.
Decision Date28 June 1976
Docket NumberNo. 75-1713

Page 1100

540 F.2d 1100
176 U.S.App.D.C. 321
UNITED STATES of America
v.
Luther R. WILSON, Jr., Appellant.
No. 75-1713.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Dec. 17, 1975.
Decided June 28, 1976.

Delbert J. Brehman, Washington, D. C., for appellant.

Timothy J. Reardon, III, Asst. U. S. Atty., Washington, D. C., with whom Earl J. Silbert, U. S. Atty., and John A. Terry, Asst. U. S. Atty., Washington, D. C., were on the brief for appellee.

Before BAZELON, Chief Judge, and ROBINSON and MacKINNON, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge MacKINNON.

MacKINNON, Circuit Judge:

This case presents the question of the jurisdiction and duty of a federal district court in a criminal case to return to the defendant that property seized from him in the investigation but which is not alleged to be stolen, contraband, or otherwise forfeitable, and which is not needed, or is no longer needed, as evidence. We hold that the district court has both the jurisdiction and the duty to ensure the return of such property.

I

In an indictment filed on February 21, 1974, appellant was charged with possessing cocaine with intent to distribute it (21 U.S.C. § 841(a)); possession of cocaine (33 D.C.Code § 402); possession of marijuana with intent to distribute it (21 U.S.C. § 841(a)), and possession of marijuana (33 D.C.Code § 402). At his arraignment on March 14, 1974, appellant pleaded not guilty, and the case was set for trial on May 29. On March 18, appellant in the criminal case filed a "Motion for the Return of Seized Property," in which he sought the return of $2,725 in cash which had been seized pursuant to a search warrant by police officers from his apartment:

Comes now the defendant, through his attorney and moves this Court for an order directing the United States Government and the Metropolitan Police Department to return to the defendant a quantity of money that was seized from his apartment at the time the metropolitan police department raided his apartment pursuant to a United States Magistrate's Search Warrant. In support it is alleged as follows:

1) On December 5, 1973, members of the Metropolitan Police Department raided the premises 1830 17th Street NW, Apt. 102, and seized a quantity of money that beloned (sic) to the defendant and which was not proceeds of crime.

2) The defendant contends that the police do not have any lawful right to the money and the same must be returned to the defendant. In addition the same will not be used as evidence in the case as it cannot be traced to criminal conduct.

3) And for reasons as may appear on the hearing of the motion.

When the case was called for trial on May 29, appellant, without pressing the motion,

Page 1102

withdrew his previously entered plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana with intent to distribute it.

On July 16, 1974, the court imposed a sentence of one to three years' imprisonment, suspended its execution, and placed appellant on two years' probation. Additionally, appellant was fined $1,000. At the time of sentencing, appellant's counsel, repeating his earlier request, made an oral motion for the return of the $2,725. Thereafter, at the court's request, defense counsel and the prosecutor met informally to try to resolve the matter. The March 18 motion was never ruled upon.

On September 26, 1974, the prosecutor presented a memorandum to the court in which he analyzed appellant's bank accounts in light of appellant's representations about the money made during the informal negotiations and stated his belief that the bulk of the cash had been acquired in narcotics traffic. A copy of the memorandum was also sent to appellant. As a result of his analysis, the prosecutor returned $175 of the confiscated total to appellant. Appellant has paid the $1,000 fine. On December 3, 1974, approximately one year after its seizure, the remaining sum $2,725 less $175, or $2,550, was deposited by the property clerk of the Metropolitan Police into the General Revenue fund of the District of Columbia, where it now remains.

On April 7, 1975, appellant renewed his earlier request, through new counsel, by filing a motion in the criminal case for the return of the remaining sum. The motion bore the criminal case number and relied both upon Fed.R.Crim.P. 41(e) 1 and upon appellant's simple claim to have his property returned. The motion was denied by fiat on the same date. On April 17 appellant filed a motion for reconsideration and for a hearing. The Government filed an opposition stating that the money was subject to forfeiture. On June 4 the court denied the motion, again by fiat. On June 13 appellant filed a notice of appeal "from the order denying his Motion for Return of Seized Property entered in this action on the 7th day of April, 1975, and from the order denying his Motion for Reconsideration and for Hearing entered in this action on the 4th day of June, 1975."

II

At oral argument in this court, the Government disclaimed the position that defendant was not entitled to the money and disclaimed reliance on the prosecutor's letter of September 26, 1974. 2 Given the difficult-to-trace nature of cash currency, we believe the Government's disclaimers were proper.

Appellant here argues his right to the money under Fed.R.Crim.P. 41(e) and a due process right to have his property returned. The Government's position, as reiterated at oral argument, rests on four arguments.

Page 1103

We deal with each of the Government's arguments in turn.

First, the Government, conceding that the district court had...

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89 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Bowker, No. 02-4086.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • June 11, 2004
    ...quotation marks omitted); quoting United States v. Martinson, 809 F.2d 1364, 1370 (9th Cir.1987) (citing United States v. Wilson, 540 F.2d 1100, 1103-04 (D.C.Cir.1976)). There, the district court had failed to address the legal or factual issues raised in a party's motion for return of seiz......
  • Matthews v. US, Action No. 2:93cr66.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 13, 1996
    ...jurisdiction from the criminal trial. See Mora v. United States, 955 917 F. Supp. 1101 F.2d at 158 (citing United States v. Wilson, 540 F.2d 1100, 1103 (D.C.Cir.1976); United States v. LaFatch, 565 F.2d 81, 83 (6th Cir. 1977); United States v. Palmer, 565 F.2d 1063, 1064 (9th Cir.1977)); Un......
  • Lee v. City of Chicago, No. 02-1503.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 22, 2003
    ...not seek to constrain unlawful intrusions into the constitutionally protected areas of the Fourth Amendment. See United States v. Wilson, 540 F.2d 1100, 1103 (D.C.Cir.1976) ("[I]t is fundamental to the integrity of Page 466 criminal justice process that property involved in the proceeding a......
  • United States v. $4,480,466.16 in Funds Seized from Bank of Am. Account Ending in 2653, No. 18-10801
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • November 5, 2019
    ...an independent civil action." Id. at 35 (cleaned up) (citing 19 U.S.C. § 1618 ; Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e) ; United States v. Wilson , 540 F.2d 1100, 1104 (D.C. Cir. 1976) ).7 See 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(4)(A) (providing "any person claiming an interest in the seized property may file a claim assert......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
91 cases
  • U.S. v. Bowker, No. 02-4086.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • June 11, 2004
    ...quotation marks omitted); quoting United States v. Martinson, 809 F.2d 1364, 1370 (9th Cir.1987) (citing United States v. Wilson, 540 F.2d 1100, 1103-04 (D.C.Cir.1976)). There, the district court had failed to address the legal or factual issues raised in a party's motion for return of seiz......
  • Matthews v. US, Action No. 2:93cr66.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 13, 1996
    ...jurisdiction from the criminal trial. See Mora v. United States, 955 917 F. Supp. 1101 F.2d at 158 (citing United States v. Wilson, 540 F.2d 1100, 1103 (D.C.Cir.1976); United States v. LaFatch, 565 F.2d 81, 83 (6th Cir. 1977); United States v. Palmer, 565 F.2d 1063, 1064 (9th Cir.1977)); Un......
  • Lee v. City of Chicago, No. 02-1503.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 22, 2003
    ...not seek to constrain unlawful intrusions into the constitutionally protected areas of the Fourth Amendment. See United States v. Wilson, 540 F.2d 1100, 1103 (D.C.Cir.1976) ("[I]t is fundamental to the integrity of Page 466 criminal justice process that property involved in the proceeding a......
  • United States v. $4,480,466.16 in Funds Seized from Bank of Am. Account Ending in 2653, No. 18-10801
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • November 5, 2019
    ...an independent civil action." Id. at 35 (cleaned up) (citing 19 U.S.C. § 1618 ; Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(e) ; United States v. Wilson , 540 F.2d 1100, 1104 (D.C. Cir. 1976) ).7 See 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(4)(A) (providing "any person claiming an interest in the seized property may file a claim assert......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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