Harold Trimmer and Earll Pott Discuss Major Supreme Court Ruling on Asset Forfeiture

In Luis v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel outweighs the rights of the Government to seize assets unrelated to alleged crimes. Klinedinst attorneys Harold Trimmer and Earll Pott take a look at the ruling, and what it means for defendants who are impacted by federal asset forfeiture laws.

Photo of Earll M. Pott
Earll M. Pott
Harold C. Trimmer, Esq.
Harold C. Trimmer

Yesterday, a divided U.S. Supreme Court published its closely-watched opinion in Luis v. United States. In a 5-3 ruling, the justices provided a major victory to defendants trying to defend themselves in cases involving asset forfeitures, overturning a lower court’s ruling and ensuring an accused’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

At issue in Luis was the Government’s indictment in a Medicare fraud case, where the government demanded a criminal forfeiture of nearly $45 million. In cases alleging fraud, federal law permits the Government to freeze assets before trial, under the assumption that those assets are the direct product of the alleged fraud or, at a minimum, traceable to the alleged fraudulent conduct.

In recent years, however, the Government has increasingly used the broad language in 18 USC 1345(a)(2) to justify pretrial seizure of assets which are untraceable to the alleged fraud, but are of equivalent value to the monies allegedly earned from bad conduct. The Government has asserted its right to freeze clean assets, even when those assets were needed to pay the accused’s attorneys.

Klinedinst attorneys Harold Trimmer and Earll Pott have written a new article in the Klinedinst Law Library on Luis v. United States. In their piece,, Trimmer and Pott take a closer look at the Supreme Court’s decision, which overturned lower courts and ruled that the Government’s forfeiture of clean assets violated the Defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights. Trimmer and Pott also look at how the case is a departure from recent Supreme Court decisions, and could signal the beginning of closer scrutiny of federal forfeiture statutes.

To read the full article, please click on:

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