United States v. Chamberlain

Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Cato Institute in Support of Appellant.

Brief filed: 08/10/2016


United States v. Chamberlain

4th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 16-4313

Prior Decision

Decision below 2016 WL 2899255 (E.D.N.C. May 17, 2016).


This court's prior decision in Billman is not a viable authority and should no longer be followed. Billman authorizes the pretrial restraint of any property – whether tainted or untainted – that might ultimately be forfeited to the government upon conviction. Every other circuit to address the issue has held that the statute does not authorize the government to restrain a defendant's untainted, substitute assets before trial. Luis rejected the argument that the government is authorized to restrain all property that might ultimately be forfeited to the government upon conviction. Luis expressly rejects the broad reading of Monsanto relied upon by this court in BillmanLuis holds that the proper inquiry is to examine the parties' respective property rights under the statute. Luis describes section 853 as permitting only the pretrial restraint of tainted assets, and the government agreed with the court's description during oral argument. En Banc proceedings are not necessary to overrule Billman in this case.

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Abbe David Lowell and Scott W. Coyle, Chadbourne & Parke LLP, Washington, DC; Thomas K. Maher, N.C. Office of Indigent Def. Services, Durham, NC; Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute, Washington, DC.