Government vacates civil forfeiture and returns full value of property in Third Circuit pro bono appeal
On the merits of opening appellate brief of Petitioner, represented by pro bono counsel Hayley Haldeman and Thomas Panighetti, the federal government returned the full value of Petitioner's seized property and vacated the underlying civil forfeiture. As background, in 2009, the government had seized and administratively forfeited Petitioner’s car and $35,900. In 2011, Petitioner, then represented by other pro bono counsel, sued; the Third Circuit affirmed the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s dismissal. In a second lawsuit in 2014 to set aside the forfeiture, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania again dismissed the claims of Petitioner, then proceeding pro se. On appeal, the Third Circuit appointed Jones Day as pro bono counsel. In his opening brief, Petitioner argued that the underlying forfeiture statute was unconstitutional, among other issues. Following negotiations that commenced after that filing, the Department of Justice agreed to return the $35,900 and value of the seized car, as well as to vacate the forfeiture.