Court Rules on Property Return!

Court Rules on Property Return!
Posted by FoM on January 13, 1999 at 11:52:17 PT

WASHINGTON,The Supreme Court has ruled that when police seize property in a criminal investigation, the Constitution does not require them to provide the owner with notice of state rules on getting the property back. 
The unanimous judgment today reverses a lower court ruling in a case out of West Covina, Calif. West Covina police were investigating a cocaine and murder case when they obtained a search warrant for the home of Lawrence and Clara Perkins in 1993. The officers had found evidence linking a boarder at the home to the murder crime scene in another part of town. When they entered the Perkins home, the officers did not know which room was boarder's bedroom, so they searched the whole house, which was empty at the time of the raid. Court records say police found gang photos, some depicting the boarder, and seized a shotgun. They also seized a starter pistol and $2, 469 from a locked bedroom closet. The house was left in disarray. Officers left a notice telling the absent occupants of the search and the warrant. Perkins, who was not charged with anything, claimed the cash and starter pistol and attempted to get his property back. When he had to jump through a series of legal hoops and still couldn't get his property back because no one told him he needed to get the search warrant number, Perkins filed suit in federal court. He claimed arbitrary intrusion into his privacy and said the city and Los Angeles County had failed to properly train police. A federal judge sided with the city, but an appeals court ruled that there should have been a hearing before the seizure of Perkins' property. The appeals court also ruled the city had failed to tell Perkins how to get his property back. But writing for the Supreme Court majority today, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, ``The court of appeals' far-reaching notice requirement not only lacks support in our precedent but also conflicts with the well-established practice of the states and the federal government.'' The unanimous ruling reverses the appeals court and sends the case back down for a rehearing based on today's Supreme Court opinion. (No. 97-1230, West Covina vs. Perkins et al.) _- Copyright 1998 by United Press International. 
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