News Release ~ 05/17/1999

Statement of William B. Moffitt, President-Elect National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Re: Today’s Supreme Court Decision on Forfeiture — Florida v. White

Washington, DC (May 17, 1999) -- “Chipping away at what remains of the Fourth Amendment, the U. S. Supreme Court today — overruling the Florida Supreme Court — upheld the warrantless seizure of an automobile the police believed was used in drug trafficking several months earlier. This nation’s ‘War on Drugs’ has eviscerated the fundamental protections our founding fathers included in our Constitution. Where a law enforcement agency is the beneficiary of forfeited property, the constitutional presumption of approval by a neutral magistrate issuing a proper warrant is essential. Today’s ruling virtually eliminates that protection, and encourages further shortcuts by police in the interest of merely building up their own property inventories at the expense of American citizens."

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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