United States v. Simard

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 12-10-2012
  • Case #: 11-15528
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam; Circuit Judges Reinhardt, Silverman, and Wardlaw
  • Full Text Opinion

In granting a motion to strike a claim in a civil forfeiture proceeding, the district court errs when it applies the standard of proof for a possessory interest, rather than an ownership interest; therefore, an “unequivocal assertion of an ownership interest in the property is sufficient to establish standing.”

Michael Simard filed a claim to $999,830 in a civil forfeiture proceeding, and the district court granted a motion to strike the claim. Following the district court’s denial of his motion for reconsideration, Simard appealed. The Ninth Circuit determined that, when the district court struck Simard’s claim, it erroneously applied the standard of proof for a claimant asserting a possessory interest in property, which required Simard to do more and explain his possession. The Court determined that, because Simard introduced a sworn declaration that asserted an ownership interest in the money taken from him, the district court should have applied the ownership interest standard of proof. Per the latter standard, Simard’s “unequivocal assertion of ownership” established his Article III standing. The Court held that the district court erred in striking Simard’s claim, thus rendering the appeal for reconsideration moot. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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